Hopes dashed for shoppers’ car permit

HOPES for a shoppers’ permit to take the sting out of parking charges in rural Northumberland have been dashed, sparking a furious response from campaigners.

The measures were considered as part of a move to civil parking enforcement by Northumberland County Council but, after consultation with the public, schemes which would have benefited residents have been withdrawn.

The Northumberland Parking Strategy looked at 10 proposals for change to the current system.

One of those was to roll out a shoppers’ permit scheme which is currently in use in Morpeth and gives residents the chance to park for free at certain times of the day for a nominal annual fee.

But in a report to the county’s Executive, which meets on Monday, it is recommended that the permit is withdrawn entirely with no other provision made. It also states that a scoring system designed as a fair approach to identifying where either parking charging or time restrictions was needed is not to be implemented.

Coun Gordon Castle, ward member for Alnwick said: “The report doesn’t make it clear enough if charges are going to be extended to other parts of the county.

“It gives vague indications but we want more than that. We want to see a clear and exclusive commitment in the strategy that will bring car parking charges across the county.

“A market town should not be the sole criteria to bear the brunt of parking charges.

“In the original draft the proposal was to extend the shoppers’ permit across the county. I thought that was quite a good idea. But the officers obviously think that is not viable as they only had 500 responses to a survey.

“It would have been good for local businesses and residents.

“In its present form unless changes are made before next week’s Executive I think it is totally unacceptable.”