A PAY and display sign was vandalised within two days of parking charges being introduced in a popular park.

New signage in the Upper Lodges car park at Stanmer Park was pictured scrawled with pink paint on Saturday morning after new parking charges were introduced at the park on Thursday.

The new parking prices range from £1 for an hour to £6.50 for 11 hours, with card payment machines in the Lower Lodges West car park and at the Patchway car park.

All other locations require people to pay over the phone or by using an app.

The Argus: Photo: Eddie MitchellPhoto: Eddie Mitchell

The council said the changes were introduced "in response to concerns from residents and visitors about parking problems in the park during the day".

It comes after a petition was launched to rescind parking charges for regular walkers at the park and for an affordable annual parking permit to be offered instead.

More than 1,400 people have now signed the petition on change.org, started by pensioner Joy Flowers.

The 67-year-old said: "It seems to lots of us that the council is just not listening.

"It's a tax on exercise. There's a lot of people I know who won't be able to afford the car parking.

"All those people who will want to be going out for picnics will get there and realise they'll have to be going back to put more money on their car.

"There's always been free access in the park. It's just really unfair to exclude people."

The Argus: Photo: Eddie MitchellPhoto: Eddie Mitchell

The city council said the new charges are designed to protect the heritage of the Grade-II listed Historic Park and Garden, which is undergoing a £5.1 million restoration project.

A council spokesman said all income from car parking charges will be ring fenced for use in Stanmer Park and the wider estate "to continue the investment in, and protection of, important historic structures, and management and maintenance of the park".

He said the council is committed to reviewing the new parking schemes after 18 months.

“This will look at the charges, the issue of possible season tickets, and any other matters relating to the scheme – for example consideration of extending the subsidy on the 78 bus to enable a more frequent / widespread service", the spokesman added.