Harpenden Highland Gathering parking crisis averted by First Capital Connect

Harpenden Highland Gathering 2011

Harpenden Highland Gathering 2011 - Credit: Archant

FIRST Capital Connect (FCC) has come to the rescue of the Harpenden Lions Highland Gathering by offering use of its station car park following revelations that the town was double-booked to host a circus on the same weekend as the popular annual event.

The Herts Advertiser revealed last week there were fears that charities might lose out as visitors would struggle to find a car park space to attend the largest Highland Gathering outside Scotland, which doubles as a fundraiser for many causes.

Harpenden Lions Club had been stunned to learn that visitors to its event would have to compete for car parking spaces on Sunday, July 14, as Harpenden town council (HTC) had agreed to a circus being hosted on the Common that same weekend.

The Gathering, at Rothamsted Park, raises tens of thousands of pounds for charity every year.

With about 10,000 visitors expected on the Sunday, the Scottish-themed event needed about 1,000 car parking spaces in the town. There are 400 spaces at Rothamsted and the club was depending on the Common to provide a further 500 spaces, as in previous years.

Following a complaint to HTC about the double-booking, town clerk John Bagshaw asked FCC whether it could provide additional car parking spaces at Harpenden.

A spokesman for the train operator said the firm was, “happy to support the Harpenden Lions club in making both station car parks at the station available for parking to those attending the Highland Gathering.”

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That means about 700 spaces will now be available for visitors.

The spokesman said that FCC would arrange for the normal Sunday charge of £2 to be suspended on July 14, and that “we are happy for Harpenden Lions Club members to collect donations towards Home Start St Albans and Parkinson’s UK from those using the car park.”

Bengie Walden, chair of the Highland Gathering committee for the club, praised FCC for freeing up its car park.

However he said he hoped that the circus would leave a day earlier, on Saturday July 13, as it would be preferable for parking to be available closer to the event, rather than have older visitors walk from the station.