Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Free Car Parking Call Rejected by County Council; Long-Running Row Rumbles on after Motion Fails

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Free Car Parking Call Rejected by County Council; Long-Running Row Rumbles on after Motion Fails

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Black

AFORMAL bid to scrap car parking charges across Northumberland has been rejected by councillors amid claims it would create traffic chaos in towns popular with tourists and visitors.

A Labour Party motion to retain free parking in towns such as Blyth and Ashington - and extend it to the rest of the county - was defeated at a special meeting of the unitary authority at County Hall.

The motion failed after Liberal Democrat councillors voted against it and Conservatives abstained - leaving the long-running row over parking fees to rumble on.

Labour group leader Grant Davey said free parking was affordable given the council's massive budget. He said the loss of about pounds 1.8m in income was a price worth paying as parking fees were destroying the county's economy. 1

But the council's Lib Dem leader, Jeff Reid, said introducing free parking county-wide was "a recipe for chaos".

Coun Reid said: "If it is free then people who get on the bus at present will decide to take their cars instead and we could have chaos in towns like Berwick, Alnwick and Morpeth. They would simply fill up at peak times."

The special meeting finally approved the council's new parking strategy, which deals with issues such as civil enforcement of parking, permit concessions, disabled provision and residents' parking schemes.

Now controversial decisions on whether to extend charges to south east Northumberland towns - where drivers currently park free - will be taken following discussions with local stakeholders about local traffic management issues.

There has been anger for years that parking charges apply in towns such as Berwick, Alnwick, Seahouses, Hexham and Morpeth but not in Ashington, Newbiggin, Bedlington, Blyth and Cramlington.

Recently, pressure from angry traders in Alnwick, Hexham and Morpeth ensured that the overall parking strategy had to be agreed by the full council and not just the Lib Dem executive. …

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