Confusion over parking scheme in Market Place

An aerial view of the Market Place, Alnwick. Picture by Hawkeye Aerial Systems
An aerial view of the Market Place, Alnwick. Picture by Hawkeye Aerial Systems

A disabled shop-owner has said that the parking regime in Alnwick’s central square does not work, blaming ineffective signage and motorists’ lack of understanding.

Evelyn Dodd, of Handi Stationary in the Market Place, has started policing the area as many people are getting parking tickets.

She claims the issues are due to the fact many people do not understand the parking system after ‘years of a free-for-all’ in the square.

Mrs Dodd said: “Most people see the lines and they think it’s a parking space so they park there, but most of the time, they’re actually in a loading bay.”

But town and county councillor for Alnwick, Gordon Castle, explained the plans are ‘to satisfy as many needs as possible rather than one person’s views’.

“There was a strong view expressed in many quarters, including Alnwick Town Council, that signage should be as small as legally permissible in order to blend in with the Market Place features,” he said. “The Market Place is not primarily a car park, it has severe restrictions designed to maximise its use by the public for pedestrian movement, events, markets and festivals.”

Mrs Dodd said that the signage is in many cases too small and also suggested that drivers ignored her attempts to warn them that they were parked wrongly, often saying they were only parking ‘for a few minutes’.

“At the moment, you come into the Market Place and the instructions on the wall say restricted parking, but the average person comes in, looks around and they just park anywhere,” she added.

Coun Castle pointed out that it ‘should be within the capability of any driver who is fit to drive to read the signs’.

“However, I do concede that they [signs] can be missed if not sought for, but increasing use should bring increased familiarity,” he said.

Coun Castle also encouraged road users to give feedback to the county council.

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “The Market Place is under constant review by Alnwick Town Council, along with other free Northumberland County Council car parks that will have been in place only one year in May.

“The town council will be considering any improvements or changes that seem desirable at the end of year one and take any suggested measures to Northumberland County Council for consideration.”

The new era in the long-running saga of Alnwick’s Market Place began on Monday, June 2, 2014, as the new parking regulations came into force. The scheme, originally agreed in September 2012, was designed to end the chaos of cars parking wherever they want in the square while offering a compromise between vehicular and pedestrian use.

Parking is limited to 30 minutes in the 11 marked bays alongside the Northumberland Hall.

There is another bay on the far left for motorbikes and another on the right-hand side for disabled drivers.

There are loading bays to access the businesses in the Market Place on the other three sides of the square.