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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006, 12:16 GMT
Villagers lose free ride ticket
Alton Towers
Some villagers will have to pay to get in for the first time
Alton Towers is stopping the free tickets it gives to some villagers in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

For years, the theme park has let people in Whiston have the passes, but those villagers will have to pay the full entrance fee from this season.

People in parts of Oakamoor and Cotton will get 10 tickets rather than the 20 annual tickets they have been getting.

The park said changes were not about money, and it is concentrating helping villages closer to the attraction.

People in Alton, Farley, Denstone get 20 passes each year. Oakamoor residents are to get 10, and those in Cotton will have 20 or 10 depending on where they are.

'Mealy-mouthed idea'

A Whiston resident told BBC Radio Stoke that if Alton Towers do not want to hand over free tickets then it should divert the traffic from their streets.

Oakamoor resident Nick Creswell said: "Local people tolerate Alton Towers and the congestion and the hold-ups it brings because they get little mitigations, like the tickets.

"It is a very mealy-mouthed idea."

The theme park gave out 30,000 free tickets to nearby residents last year, but it will hand over 10,000 fewer this summer.

Mark Kerrigan, from Alton Towers, said it was investing money in the area by supporting a best kept village competition, a local camp and a playground, plus it spent 25,000 on traffic calming.

He said: "The villages that have been affected by these changes are in more outlying areas.

"We have reviewed this, not just by looking at a map. We have been out and looking at the impact. We have not taken this lightly."

'Not about money'

He said the attraction had looked at which villages were most affected by its operation.

It decided there was less impact on Whiston, and it has no intention of rethinking its plans.

Mr Kerrigan said: "It is not down to saving money, it is not about money at all, it is about the way we interface with the local community.

"We are happy we have looked at it enough and we are not looking to review that."

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