Market Place parking ‘back by next Easter’

Illegal parking which has plagued Alnwick Market Place could be firmly under control within six months, with plans now out for consultation.

Alnwick Town Council unanimously agreed to back a proposal hammered out by a working group, which would see 11 parking spots, plus an extra disabled space and one for motorcyles, created alongside the Northumberland Hall.

Each bay would be subject to an enforced 30-minute restriction to promote turnover for business.

There would also be four designated loading bays, the longest of which is located on the Town Hall side of the square.

The move comes after years of parking abuse in the Market Place, which is currently classed as a highway and only enforceable by Northumbria Police. Even then, an officer must see someone leaving their car to be able to issue a ticket

County and town councillor Gordon Castle, who chaired the group, said: “This took three meetings of the working group to thrash out a fair amount of detail and reach a compromise, so this is our best effort.

“It will not impact on events and festivals held in the Market Place, as parking can be suspended on those occasions. The loading bays are necessary, as there are shops there which can’t take deliveries through the back.

“Enforcement would be carried out by the council’s civil enforcement officers and if you’re not in a marked bay, you will be nicked.”

Coun Castle added: “Officers say that with a fair wind, this could be in place by Easter 2013.”

However, some councillors raised concerns over the number of new signs which would be required, potentially detracting from the historic backdrop.

Coun Martin Harrington said: “Seven signs for 11 parking spaces seems to be a lot and it could cause confusion.”

Coun Jim Thompson added: “I would add my concerns at the number of signs necessary to create what is a small number of bays. I only hope that they’re going to be in keeping with the surrounding area.”

Coun Castle said: “Signage adds to the clutter, but the law is the law and you cannot enforce it unless the proper signs are in place. We’ll insist that steps are taken to sensitively site the signs.”

Coun Rachael Roberts asked: “Is there anything to prevent any further expansion of parking in the Market Place?

“I can see it being suggested in the future to turn the whole of it over to parking.”

Coun Castle answered: “To increase the number of bays would require another order and this town council would have to be consulted first.”

Alnwick Town Council’s response has been sent to the county, which will soon launch a public consultation period.