Alnwick Town Council

A COUNCILLOR has described Alnwick Market Place as a ‘complete mess’ as a traffic order is continuously flouted by drivers.

The council heard that, despite discussions at Northumberland County Council level, no solution has been found to resolve parking problems in the town square.

A traffic order allows drivers to enter the Market Place to load and unload, but not park. However, to be prosecuted a driver must be seen by a police officer going into the area and parking without loading or unloading.

Town and county councillor Gordon Castle said the county council has consulted traders in the area about banning cars from the area.

But he said that shops have no rear access and therefore need a loading and unloading facility.

The council had been contacted by Northumbria Police asking if it wanted more time spent on observing the area to fine those who flout the rules.

However, Coun Castle said: “I personally think that it is a complete waste of a police officer’s time. We have had numerable debates in the council about parking and the issue is, what do you want?

“Once you have decided, you then have to go to public consultation which is a very expensive exercise and if a substantial minority don’t want it, it probably won’t be able to go ahead.”

Coun Eileen Blakey added: “I drove into the Market Place the other day, because I was loading. The shop owner loaded it up for me and there were three police cars parked up and officers were inside them eating their lunch.

“So I think to ask them to enforce something they are breaking themselves I would think would be totally wrong.”

Coun Sue Patience said: “It is a complete mess in the Market Place. I have had lots of comments that it looks awful and there is a huge safety question over cars going in there with no signs so people think it is pedestrian-free.”

Members were told that a new strategy will be taken on by the county council in October where traffic wardens will be employed by the county council.

Deputy Mayor Coun Geoff Watson said there was a ‘simple solution’ by introducing a time limit on loading and unloading.

A SERIES of meetings have been held to discuss the transfer of local services from the county council to the town council.

Coun Blakey and town clerk Bill Batey told members that there were a number of services currently provided by the county council that would be transferred to the town council, if agreed, over the next two to three years.

The council currently owns one bus shelter but in future will have to take on the facilities and a list of the shelters in the town is to be sought.

Public seats and flower beds will also be transferred. Mr Batey said the county council will not have the budget to undertake planting and will not be involved in displays in the future.

The buying and siting of litter bins is also to be administered by the town council, but the county will still be responsible for collecting waste.

Closed churchyards, including St Michael’s, are on the list, along with playing fields such as The Park on Swansfield Park Road, and play areas.

The town council may also be responsible for public toilets. The facilities at the Shambles will be included in the Northumberland Hall, which is being sold to Alnwick Community Development Trust.

But those on Greenwell Road will be given to the town council, if wanted.

Coun Blakey said: “The county council will have to upgrade them before we accept them as they are a disgrace.”

Mr Batey said the list was a ‘work in progress’.

THE town council has appointed a new mayor.

Coun Alan Symmonds, pictured, was voted in to the role in a private ballot by town councillors last week.

He thanked Coun Blakey for her hard work as mayor over the last two years and said he was looking forward to a ‘challenging future and a future that has vision’.

He added: “My job is to empower every councillor to achieve what they want to achieve as they sit on this council.

“I look forward to a very successful Alnwick Town Council in the future.”

Coun Geoff Watson was voted in as deputy mayor.

Appointments were also made to various other committees and outside bodies which have town council representatives.

RESIDENTS who lost car parking spaces because of a new Alnwick development have been provided with new ones.

The Gentoo site on Lagny Street and Clayport street has eaten up the spaces which were used by people living on Dispensary Street.

But Coun Castle said six spaces have been found for the residents.

Coun Blakey added that the Gentoo development is set to be completed by July 8 and Wilkinson’s will be opening on July 18.

SEATS on Willowburn Avenue have disappeared, Coun Martin Harrington told the council.

Two seats on the roundabout, which was put in for access to Sainsbury’s, Argos, Homebase and the sports centre, were removed in the construction but not replaced.

The clerk is to look into the matter.

A DONATION of £75 was made to the Bailiffgate Museum in thanks for hosting a town twinning event.