New parking restrictions have come into force in some parts of Alnwick town centre this week in a bid to solve issues of a lack of vehicle spaces, particularly in peak tourism months.
But a two-week moratorium has been put in place to allow motorists to become accustomed to the new rules and during that period, which started on Monday, parking fines will not be issued in the areas affected. From next Monday, warning notices will instead be placed on cars found to be flouting the law, before parking fines will start being issued the following week.
The implementation of the new rules has caused confusion among motorists, some of whom have questioned the times on social media, particularly as the county council website is still displaying the old times. It has even caught local councillors on the hop.
County councillor for Alnwick, Gordon Castle, said: "It caught me somewhat by surprise - I wasn't expecting the changes to be made this week. We could have handled it better in terms of publicity."
As we reported back in April, an action plan to try to tackle severe parking problems in the town was unveiled by Northumberland County Council (NCC) after a parking survey was carried out and extensive consultation with local groups undertaken.
Among the first proposals to be agreed and now implemented, with new signs in place, are:
○ Conversion of the long-stay spaces in Greenwell Road car park A (behind the Playhouse) to short-stay three-hour spaces. Parking discs will now need to be displayed.
○ Conversion of four-hour bays to three hours in Greenwell Road car park D.
○ Conversion of short-stay bays on Bondgate Within (outside Costa) from two hours to 30 minutes.
The middle two car parks on Greenwell Road (B and C) and car park E, behind Iceland and over the road from D, remain free all day and will not require drivers to display official county council parking discs.
The 'cooling off' period for fines will also allow the county council to update its website.
Coun Castle said: "Whilst there has certainly been plenty of publicity about the actual changes and what was planned, it would have been good for local members to know at least a week in advance of when these changes took effect.
"I’ve just checked the NCC website and found that a table of parking restrictions for Alnwick car parks is not accurate. It is misleading for that part of Bondgate Within outside of Costa, and incorrect in respect of Greenwell Lane."
Coun Castle has asked the council officers to correct the website as soon as possible.