Parking fee relief ‘not enough’

Parking on the cobbles in the centre of Alnwick.
Parking on the cobbles in the centre of Alnwick.

Moves to ease parking charge pressure on Northumberland’s market towns don’t go far enough, opposition councillors have claimed.

Conservatives at County Hall have described a temporary freeze on Alnwick parking charges as too little, too late, and repeated their call for free residents’ parking throughout.

It comes after Lib Dem council bosses said they would curb a proposed rise in parking charges and also abolish parking charges on Sundays.

But they have resisted calls to equalise charges across the county or to implement free residents’ parking, instead opting for a raft of measures to make current charges more level between market towns across the authority.

For Berwick, it means an actual drop in the cost of a parking ticket.

But Alnwick’s councillor, Gordon Castle, said: “This year the Conservatives put a motion to council calling for free residents parking across Northumberland and the Lib Dems voted to block it.

“The new proposals are a belated step in the right direction but they fall far short of addressing the fundamental injustice of exempting the most populous parts of the county in the South East from any parking charges.

“This is totally unfair and I repeat my commitment to remove parking charges altogether for Northumberland residents and to charge only visitors.

“Even Labour are now supporting free parking in Northumberland and it is most frustrating that the Lib Dems will not budge.

“However, they have at last heeded the Chamber of Trade, who, like me, have been seeking the removal of Sunday parking charges for years.”

Council leader Jeff Reid has since reiterated that the proposals prove what the Liberal Democrat administration has consistently said about parking charges – that they are there for traffic management purposes, not as a revenue-raiser.

Sir Alan Beith MP said: “I am sure motorists will welcome the reintroduction of free parking in Alnwick on Sundays and the freeze on parking charges for the rest of the week.”