Confusion at new fee rules

NEW parking regulations for Alnwick have been criticised as a ‘complete mess’ by a town councillor, who has renewed calls for residents to pay nothing.

As part of its new strategy, Northumberland County Council has revealed that parking in the town centre would all be for up to two hours, longer than is currently the case in Market Street and Bondgate Within.

Pottergate, which currently has a four-hour limit, would also have a two-hour limit, while Greenwell Road, Pottergate, New Row, Dispensary Street and Roxburgh Place would still have all-day parking.

Shoppers’ permits, which allow parking free of charge at certain times, would be valid in Greenwell Road, Dispensary Street and Roxburgh Place.

But Conservative town councillor Bruce Hewison has repeated his call for the introduction of free parking for local residents.

He said: “The new parking regulations are confusing and will do very little to help residents and local business.

“Northumberland County Council is telling us that we will not have to pay in some places, some of the time, but will be forced to pay more elsewhere.

“Alnwick businesses and local jobs rely on people visiting our town, enjoying their stay and spending money.

“Occasional visitors will be utterly baffled by the proposed parking charge situation and this will damage Alnwick’s reputation as a place to visit.

“The fairest, simplest solution is to adopt the Conservative parking policy of free parking for residents, with traffic managed using a time disc system.

“Visitors would pay to park, but this would be a simple charge that is applied uniformly across the county. This policy has already been endorsed by Chambers of Trade in Alnwick, Berwick, Morpeth and Hexham.”

Coun Hewison added: “It is an ongoing disgrace that there are parking charges in Alnwick when parking is free in Blyth and Ashington.”

Coun Isobel Hunter, executive member for Infrastructure and Environment, said: “Northumberland County Council adopted a county-wide parking strategy in July 2011.

“At this time, a parking strategy working group was established to look at future changes to the strategy. Any changes recommended by this group will then be reviewed by scrutiny prior to consideration by the council’s executive.

“To date, the group has not considered a proposal for free parking with a disc-enforced time limit as suggested by the Conservative Group.

“A variant of this proposal was considered by the working group and rejected earlier this year when the county-wide shoppers’ permit was approved.

“Any councillor is welcome to put suggestions for changes to the county-wide strategy to the parking strategy working group at any time.”