Free parking on the cards

Parking on the cobbles in the centre of Alnwick.
Parking on the cobbles in the centre of Alnwick.

Free parking is on the cards for Alnwick as the town council looks to progress a new scheme for a 12-month trial period.

The new Labour administration at County Hall announced a scheme to allow town and parish councils to decide if they want free parking after it took control of the council in the May elections.

Alnwick Town Council has formed a working group to consider the implications and at a recent meeting the preferred option that emerged was for the introduction of free and time-limited parking for a 12-month trial period from April 2014.

This would mean that while parking would be free, the existing time limits in car parks would apply and failure to comply with these may result in enforcement action being taken.

In long-stay car parks, parking would be free all day, but in short-stay car parks, time limits would still apply. For example, parking on The Cobbles would be free for up to two hours.

The meeting favoured the introduction of parking discs to assist in the enforcement of time limits.

And the town council is looking for views from residents and businesses ahead the next parking working group meeting on Wednesday, October 9.

Mayor of Alnwick Bill Grisdale said: “I would anticipate that residents and businesses in Alnwick would welcome free parking and if this is the case, we need to ensure that, as far as we can, we have solutions for any issues or problems that may arise.

“For example, we will seek assurances from the county council about keeping up with the future maintenance and repair of the car parks, even though they will have no income from car-parking charges and also ensuring that enforcement resources will be adequate.”

Coun Gordon Castle, who is a town councillor, but also represents Alnwick on the county council, said that he is ‘absolutely committed to free, time-limited parking’ as he promised in his manifesto ahead of the elections.

“I’m pleased the town council and the public appear to be of that view,” he added.