Free parking finds favour with readers

Parking in Greenwell Lane, Alnwick.
Parking in Greenwell Lane, Alnwick.
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All of the readers who have so far responded to a Gazette poll on the future of parking in Alnwick have backed a free, time-limited scheme.

The new Labour administration at County Hall announced a scheme to allow town and parish councils to decide if they want free parking after it took control of the council in the May elections.

As reported in the Gazette last week, Alnwick Town Council has formed a working group to consider the implications and at a recent meeting the preferred option that emerged was for the introduction of free and time-limited parking for a 12-month trial period from April 2014.

This would mean that while parking would be free, the existing time limits in car parks would apply and failure to comply with these may result in enforcement action being taken.

One of the issues that the town council wants assurance on is that maintenance and repair of car parks as well as enforcement will continue even though the county council will have no income from parking charges.

Figures released as part of the discussions as to the future of parking in Alnwick show how much money was brought in from parking charges in the town in the financial year 2012/13.

In the 12-month period, off-street ticket machine income totalled £239,904, while the amount from on-street machines was £71,334.

The income does vary significantly on a seasonal basis ranging from a monthly high of £38,122 in August to a low of £14,598 in December.

This means that the county council would have missed out on £311,238 during the period from April 2012 to March 2013 if a free-parking regime had been in place.

However, a free but time-limited scheme would still offer potential income from enforcement.

Across Alnwick in 2012/13, 1,811 valid tickets were issued, of which 190 were cancelled. 633 were issued in off-street car parks with the majority (1,338) coming from on-street spaces.

This came about from 10,489 visits by civil enforcement officers, totalling 1,400.83 visit hours.

To vote in our online poll, visit www.northumberland gazette.co.uk and click on the news section, where the poll will be displayed on the right-hand side.