In the financial aftermath of Covid-19, an increase in admission prices at Tilgate Nature Centre is only one of the areas in which charges will go up or services go down.
This was the message from Peter Lamb, leader of Crawley Borough Council during his weekly online Q&A when he was asked why the cost of getting into the popular local attraction had increased.
Mr Lamb said:
“The charges have had to change at the nature centre.
“Part of what we’re doing is to try to invest in those facilities more, to try to get more stuff in there that people want to see – and that does come at a high cost, I’m afraid.”
The centre, in Tilgate Park, is home to 100 different species – including some that are rare or endangered.
Set up in 1966, it was used initially to breed ducklings – but since then, generations of children have been enthralled by everything from meerkats to tapir to a particularly chatty raven.
The nature centre, however, is one very small part of a large and expensive picture.
The loss of income caused by the lockdown has left the council with a gaping £4million hole in its budget – with things not looking much better for the following years. Plugging that hole could mean sacrifices.
Mr Lamb repeated his previous criticism of the government for failing to provide more financial help to councils crippled by the lock-down.
“I’ve got to be frank with people here. With the £4million budget deficit this year and £2million ongoing as a result of Covid… this is not going to be the only area where charges are going to have to go up and where service in other areas is going to have to go down.
“It’s the reality of what we’re now forced to live with, unfortunately.”