Fury at station parking delays

Cars parked at Alnmouth Railway Station
Cars parked at Alnmouth Railway Station

Lack of progress over the extension of parking at Alnmouth Station has sparked anger.

Talks over expanding the car park on the southbound side into Network Rail’s maintenance compound are in the early stages, it was announced on Monday. But the length of time it has taken to resolve the situation has been criticised.

Coun Heather Cairns, who represents the ward, said: “I am very disappointed that we are only in the early stages of negotiations with Network Rail.

“This has been going on for years. I hope it will get moving quickly.”

Fears have also been voiced over a proposed residents’ parking scheme being implemented before the station situation is sorted. Residents on Curly Lane and South View in Hipsburn are plagued by cars being left outside their homes because there aren’t enough spaces at the station.

A consultation is under way for the residents’ parking permit but concern was raised about it having a negative impact on users of the station.

Coun Cairns said: “Both of these things –the parking and residents’ permit – need to be dealt with together.”

Speaking at Monday’s North Area Committee meeting, Steve Fletcher, from Northumberland County Council’s highways and neighbourhood services, said: “We have had some very preliminary discussions with Network Rail .

“We have got a meeting organised with them and Northern Rail in the next couple of weeks to try to put some flesh on the bones and get some more details.”

After the meeting, Coun Cairns said: “I want to express my disappointment and deep concern about Network Rail’s failure to engage with the county council officers

“I have been asking for this to happen since I was elected and I am told by the officers that Network Rail just won’t communicate with them.”

Coun Jeff Watson raised concerns about residents’ parking schemes impacting on users.

He said: “It has got to be a sensible idea not to put any restrictions on parking until you have got extra parking available.

“Otherwise, if you will make the situation worse for users, even if it is better for the residents. What the consultation doesn’t do is take into account the users of the station.”

However, Coun Gordon Castle said that residents were getting considerably ‘brassed off’ with people parking across their drives and not leaving space for emergency vehicles and buses.

He said: “It wasn’t that long ago that Alnmouth station was facing closure, now it is one of the most popular in the county.

“But the parking outside homes has become a blight on the lives of residents .”

And Tom Spence, a trustee of Aln Valley Railway, asked that the group is not left out of any parking discussions.

“There is a lot of space on the Edinburgh side as well but I would ask that we are included in discussions,” he said.

He also asked about the provision of a cycle path from Alnwick to the station which was earmarked for funding, but never came to fruition.

But Paul McKenna, senior transport projects engineer at Northumberland County Council, said that town audits are underway and one of the recommendations is to work with Aln Valley Railway on the cycle link.

Coun Cairns added that she will be taking the lack of progress to MP Sir Alan Beith to try to put more pressure on Network Rail.