Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Free Parking Plan for County's Drivers; Only Visitors Would Have to Pay to Park

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Free Parking Plan for County's Drivers; Only Visitors Would Have to Pay to Park

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Black

ARADICAL plan to bring in free car parking for everyone living in Northumberland has been put forward.

Under the new proposal, parking fees would be scrapped for all drivers who live within the county boundary, leaving only tourists, visitors and other non-residents having to pay.

Every Northumberland household would be allowed two parking discs allowing them to park free of charge anywhere in the county, subject to the time limits in individual car parks.

The scheme has been devised by the opposition Conservative group on the county council in the face of growing unrest over the current system of charging motorists.

A row has been rumbling for years over the fact that while drivers have to pay up to pounds 1.10p an hour to park in rural towns such as Berwick, Seahouses, Alnwick, Morpeth, Hexham and Corbridge, it remains free in south east Northumberland.

Struggling market town traders and business leaders have been campaigning for a fairer system, saying charges should be shared out more equally.

There was fresh anger recently when a new county-wide car parking strategy drawn up by the Liberal Democrat administration at County Hall failed to tackle the issue.

Now Tory councillors have come up with a radical solution which they claim will prevent rural town centres from being penalised.

The free parking scheme for residents was unveiled by group leader Peter Jackson at a special meeting of Morpeth chamber of trade, which was also attended by business representatives from Berwick, Alnwick and Hexham.

He said the current regime was unfair, and couldn't be sustained when shopkeepers were struggling to compete with edge-of-town supermarkets.

"We should not be talking about imposing charges in new places, but about how the council can reduce the burden on residents and businesses. …

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