Last chance to have your say on Northumberland parking-charge proposals

Charges could be introduced in Blyth's coastal car parks.
Charges could be introduced in Blyth's coastal car parks.

A petition against the introduction of parking charges in Blyth has passed the 2,500-signature mark, with time now almost up for residents to have their say.

As previously reported, to help fund a £10million investment in parking improvements across Northumberland, the county council is proposing introducing or increasing charges in a number of coastal car parks.

The proposed charges, which are out for consultation but which were backed by the council’s cabinet in November, would apply in three car parks in Blyth – Beachway, Mermaid and the Ranch.

The first hour would still be free, but up to three hours’ parking would cost £1.50 and all day would be £3.

Concerned residents launched a petition against the introduction of charges, which now has more than 1,700 signatures online, while hundreds more names have been collected on paper.

The council’s leadership has previously said it is taking on board all views as the proposals in Blyth – and elsewhere – continue to cause concern.

However, anyone wishing to provide feedback must do so via email to budget@northumberland.gov.uk by Monday (January 7).

This is to enable responses to be evaluated and any changes to the proposals to be considered ahead of the full council meeting to agree next year’s budget savings in February.

In December, Coun Glen Sanderson, the cabinet member for local services, emphasised that the council is listening to all of the feedback as he faced criticism for ‘taking money off people to go to the beach when it’s been free for years’.

“This is a set of proposals out for consultation and consultation means just that,” he said. “It’s not, this is what’s going to happen, full stop.”

He added that the charges are so the council can make improvements and create new spaces, which in Blyth means work to improve the surfacing of the Ranch car park, to be undertaken early next year, while investment of around £60,000 for the Mermaid play area is also being considered.

“This is not money that’s going to go flooding into buying parking spaces in Hexham,” Coun Sanderson said, also highlighting that charges just down the coast in North Tyneside are £1.20 an hour.

Elsewhere, there is opposition to the suggested increases to the charges in Seahouses, which would become the highest in the county along with Bamburgh, ‘as these are two of the main visitor destinations in the county and as such have the highest level of demand for parking services’.

The proposals – one hour, free; three hours, £3.50; all day, £5.50 – were discussed at the December meeting of North Sunderland Parish Council where members agreed that coastal economies should be considered as well as town centres, where fees are not being introduced, and the charges distributed evenly.