Reflecting on parking changes in the county

A Community Enforcement Officer checks the cars parked in Alnwick Market Place'Picture Jane Coltman
A Community Enforcement Officer checks the cars parked in Alnwick Market Place'Picture Jane Coltman

Last year’s introduction of free parking in the north of Northumberland has been successful, according to a new report.

Following the county council elections in May 2013, one of the new Labour administration’s initatives was to allow town and parish councils to decide whether or not to introduce free parking in their areas.

Time-limited but free parking, using a disc system, was introduced in the market towns of Alnwick, Berwick, Hexham and Morpeth in April last year and became legally enforceable on June 2.

Off-street car parks in Bamburgh, Beadnell, Rothbury and Wooler also became free, while Seahouses retained charges but introduced a free period of an hour.

Parking charges were retained in Craster, Holy Island, Newton-by-the-sea and Berwick Railway Station.

A report to yesterday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s communities and local services committee stated that ‘free parking has been successfully implemented and in the main has been positively received and in general has increased footfall and trade in town centres’.

It added: ‘The main challenge has been in dealing with the increased demand, in particular with long-stay parking.

‘Workers are no longer discouraged by having to pay to park and there appear to be more people opting to bring their car rather than using public transport or car sharing’.

Regarding Alnwick, it reported a a 10 per cent increase in town-centre trade and stated: ‘Businesses and visitors are generally positive and free parking continues to be well-received. Car parks seem to be well used with few spaces available during the day in some all-day car parks.

‘The changes made to allow some short-stay parking in the Market Place appear to be working well although there are some issues regarding how the loading bays are operating’.