Free parking boosts trade

Greenwell Lane car park in Alnwick.
Greenwell Lane car park in Alnwick.

A report has shown that the introduction of free parking in north Northumberland has led to an increase in trade, but some creases still need to be ironed out.

At Monday night’s north area committee meeting, a report stated that in Alnwick there had been a 10 per cent increase in town-centre trade since free parking was introduced on April 1.

But there were some glitches that needed to be sorted out.

Alnwick County Coun Heather Cairns said: “The report said that everything was fine and dandy in Alnwick, but there are some issues that still need to be sorted.

“We are definitely having a problem with the long-stay car parks at Greenwell Road.

“They are getting full up by 9am, with workers, who do need somewhere to park, but that means visitors are going out of the town and not returning.

“We need to have some long-stay and some short-stay parking there as well. We just haven’t got the balance quite right yet.

“The other problem is that people who are visiting Alnwick Garden are parking in Greenwell because it is free, and not the Garden car park, but I’m not sure how we sort that out.

“The other issue is that I spoke to traders in Narrowgate who said that they are losing trade because people are struggling to park in the town.

“At the moment, we also have some three-hour parking, but it was felt that four or five-hour would be better.

“Parking manager Lynne Ryan is working with Alnwick Town Council to find the main problems and to see what can be done to sort them out.

“The council is to be complimented on the system they put together in such a short time, but it just need some adaptations.”

The new short-stay parking regime in Alnwick Market Place was reported to be working well with discs used since June.

Chairman of the area committee, Coun Steven Bridgett, said that Lynne Ryan is to go back to the committee in June next year with another report after a year’s worth of free parking to see how towns have been affected by the changes.