Dismay due to lack of free festive parking

Carlo Biagioni
Carlo Biagioni

Councillors and business leaders alike have expressed disappointment that the county council will not allow a period of free parking in the run-up to Christmas.

However, Northumberland County Council’s executive agreed this week to abolish Sunday parking charges in Alnwick and other market towns such as Berwick.

Gordon Castle

Gordon Castle

In a report before Monday’s meeting, members also agreed to drop plans to raise an additional £547,000 through the parking strategy by ‘amending and harmonising parking charges in the county’s main towns’.

But in recent weeks. Alnwick Chamber of Trade (Act), led by Carlo Biagioni, had made a request for free parking for a period ahead of Christmas to boost trade and support the town centre.

And the town’s county councillor Gordon Castle had written to the council’s leadership with the request, which has been turned down.

Both Mr Biagioni, who described the council as ‘out of touch’ and Coun Castle, who described it as a ‘very disappointing response’, feel the county council could have done more.

Coun Castle said that while he welcomed the free parking on Sundays in the town, the rejection of Christmas parking put a dampener on it.

He added that it was ‘quite unnecessary’ that parking wardens will continue to patrol on Sundays to enforce time limits, despite there being no charges.

“It would save the council money and make life a great deal easier for the town centre,” he said.

A Northumberland County Council spokesman said: “The council has already recognised the importance of encouraging local residents to support the local economy through the implementation of the Northumberland Shoppers’ Permit in May 2012.

“The reduction of car parking changes and the introduction of free parking on a Sunday further reinforces the council’s commitment to supporting local businesses.”