PLANS to introduce restrictions at one the last free car parks in Winchester were rejected by civic chiefs amid concerns more options need to be assessed.

City council officers submitted proposals to implement charges at the car park on Garnier Road despite concerns being raised about attracting vandals and the difficulty of enforcement given its rural location.

Currently the site is mainly used by dog walkers and tourists to access the meadows and employees of local PR company, Remarkable Group.

Cllr Fiona Mather said: “I have strong feelings about this. I have been waiting for this to be restored for leisure use for a long time. I walk my Labrador and use the meadows every day being fortunate enough to live close by. I seriously do feel that the car park should be a community car park.

“I welcome flourishing businesses to the area but they do have a very big car park which used to serve all of Winchester for its recycling needs but they are not very far from the park and ride and I don’t think we need to put in special measures. Please restore it for leisure use only.”

Remarkable and Winchester City Council head of planning management, Simon Finch, have discussed the options open to them.

Mr Finch said: “One of the ideas I wanted to explore was to see if we could meet their business requirements in an alternative way and we were seeing if there was any scope to provide a [mobile phone operated service]. I think the point is that they do what they can to encourage people to take alternative modes of transport, such as car sharing.”

Councillors agreed that operating a system whereby car parkers would pay for their spot using a mobile phone could avoid potential issues with vandals.

Julian Isaacson, managing director of Remarkable PR Group, said: “We have looked through and read the officer’s report and the regulations that have been place have worked well but we still have more concerns. The option put forward was pay by phone for St Catherine’s car park. It will be for leisure users and on the occasion when it’s needed by staff at our office. We have checked mobile phones in the area so it shouldn’t be a barrier so I would urge the committee to consider this.”

Cllr Iain Tait said: “Whilst I whole-heartedly support the recommendation please consider the mobile phone use for anyone who wants to park for more than four hours. It’s a great parking option for people who want to spend more than four hours in the vicinity.”

But councillors said more work needed to be done before they could agree to the recommendations.

Cllr Victoria Weston said: “We want to maintain our objective but I feel there is more scope to explore the mobile phone option. I suggest we re-advertise this by having a pay-by-phone system.”