FENCES will be erected at Ventnor Botanic Garden to stop people sneaking in without paying.
Businessman John Curtis, who heads the community interest company which owns the Isle of Wight attraction, has been shocked at the number of people avoiding paying the £6.75 admission fee.
With annual estimated visitor totals at just 55,000 — well below the current number needed to break even — he has reluctantly decided to strengthen fences.
He was finally persuaded following an altercation between a trespasser and a legitimate visitor in which the visitor was upset by being cajoled — for being honest.
"People would not expect to be able to gain admission to other Island attractions without paying," he said.
A 50-year masterplan for the garden’s development was expected to include initial submissions for grant aid, philanthropic support and corporate sponsorship totalling up to £3 million.
Mr Curtis said he had pumped in capital investment of more than £300,000 in 18 months — more than the Isle of Wight Council did in the preceding ten years.
For more on this story, please see the Isle of Wight County Press on Friday, January 31.