LIMITS on free parking in Alnwick in the run-up to Christmas will deal the town a far more cruel blow than the prospect of a repeat of last year’s heavy snow.
While we can’t control the forces of nature, our leaders at County Hall do have the power to provide some relief to market towns which are struggling against a tide of troubles.
All that was asked for was a brief spell of free parking, lasting a week, to give traders a break, as we’ve had in previous yeaes. So what does the council’s executive – most of whom do not serve rural communities where charges are levied year-round – do?
Take a simple solution and bodge it, that’s what. Not content with doing things the easy way, they decide to introduce two free parking periods which will be utterly meaningless and useless to most working people, between 9 and 11am, and then between 3 and 5pm.
That will still need to be enforced. Alternatively, they could have turned the ticket machines off for a week. Yes, the council will lose a small amount of revenue, but that’s revenue only we pay, here in rural Northumberland, to go about our normal daily business.
Our small town centre is now at the mercy of market forces, in a deepening recession, in the face of competition from internet shopping and free parking in other towns and malls across the North East. The sad result will be more pain, more traders shutting up shop and – ironically – less income for the county council from business rates.
Helping us would be in your best interests.