Parking proposal for Northumberland village worries trader

Helen Smith in her ice-cream van.
Helen Smith in her ice-cream van.

A concerned ice-cream van owner says she will be put out of business if proposals to extend double-yellow lines in a seaside village are given the green light.

Helen Smith has reacted furiously after receiving notification of the plans earmarked for the top of Riverside Road in Alnmouth – at the spot where she has a street trader’s licence.

The ice-cream van on Riverside Road.

The ice-cream van on Riverside Road.

Not only does she fear that the regulations would damage her Simply Delicious ice-cream venture, but she says that it would take away around four free car-parking spaces in a village which has chronic parking problems.

It comes just over three years since she won a battle to trade from the pitch, after she appealed against Northumberland County Council’s decision to refuse her a licence.

It followed objections from Alnmouth Parish Council, which were backed by local traders and residents, who claimed that her van was a danger to road-users while parked up at Riverside Road.

The current proposal, which is out for consultation, has been requested by the parish council and Mrs Smith, from Shilbottle, believes it is a fresh attempt to boot her out of Alnmouth – an accusation refuted by the group’s chairman Coun Bill Bourne.

Mrs Smith, who has sold ice-cream from the spot since 2010, said: “If this goes ahead, it will do away with some of the free parking with no restrictions that we have and put me out of business, because I can’t park anywhere else in Alnmouth. It stinks to high heaven and I’m ready to fight this. It feels like the parish council is doing everything it can to put me out of Alnmouth.”

The proposal – for no waiting at any time restrictions on the south-east side of the road – comes on the back of a public meeting which was chaired by county councillors Heather Cairns and Gordon Castle at the start of September in a bid to try to solve chronic parking problems in Alnmouth.

The county council is seeking people’s views on the proposal and the consultation letter states that the plan has been put forward due to safety concerns, following reports that parking around the junction of Riverside Road is obstructing sight lines of traffic travelling along the road.

On top of this, consultation has also started for the installation of double yellow lines on the south-east side of The Wynd/Marine Road, following reports that parking around the junction is obstructing larger vehicles, prompting safety concerns.

Coun Bourne said: “We have been looking at these issues for many years and I welcome this consultation. There have been reports of cars being bumped on Riverside Road because it can get very narrow when cars park on both sides of the road and there have been incidents at The Wynd end when people have parked and stopped the bus getting into the village.”

Responding to Mrs Smith’s concerns, he said: “I understand what she is saying, but there is nothing to stop her from applying for another pitch. She is right about the loss of parking spaces, but as a parish council, we have thought long and hard about it and we decided that the improvements to traffic flow outweigh losing these places. Our initial requests to have double yellow lines predate her arrival at the site.”

Visit tinyurl.com/nj999kg to comment on the proposals before the November 17 deadline.