No backing for workers' parking permits in Alnwick despite petition

The parking changes over the summer have put pressure on long-stay spaces for people who work in Alnwick.
The parking changes over the summer have put pressure on long-stay spaces for people who work in Alnwick.

A call to introduce workers’ parking permits in Alnwick, backed by an almost 400-name petition, has been rejected.

It comes in the wake of changes to parking in the market town, which saw the 72 long-stay spaces in the Greenwell Lane car park A changed to a three-hour limit.

This was one of the actions from a plan drawn up by the town council and other stakeholders based on the recommendations and conclusions of studies commissioned by the county council.

A report to the authority’s petitions committee last Wednesday said that following the changes, there are still 258 long-stay spaces in off-street car parks in Alnwick town centre.

It added that the council is currently investigating potential sites for additional long-stay parking, which is another agreed action in the plan.

In addition, a 24-hour maximum stay restriction is shortly to be implemented in long-stay car parks in Alnwick and other towns, which will ‘address the issue of those who garage their vehicles for long periods of time’.

Introducing the report, Paul Jones, the council’s director of local services, said: “Fundamentally, this is something we have agreed following significant consultation with stakeholders to improve parking in the town. We don’t feel moving to produce parking permits for workers to be a viable proposition.”

Coun Glen Sanderson, the cabinet member for local services, added: “We have come up with this plan which may not suit everyone, but was considered to be the best way forward to try out for this year.”

Both of Alnwick’s county councillors attended the meeting to share their views.

Coun Gordon Castle pointed that the independent study had found that the Greenwell Lane car parks were 100 per cent full by 9am in the summer.

“That persuaded the town council that we needed to change the balance,” he said. “We should at least give it a year to settle down, let’s give it a chance.”

He added that the former Duchess’s Community High School and another site were currently being looked at as possibilities for additional long-stay parking.

Coun Robbie Moore said: “It comes down to capacity and the balance between short and long-term parking. A permit is not the solution because we can’t guarantee the space availability at the moment.”

The report also raised several other difficulties with the workers’ permit proposal such as the precedent it would set for elsewhere in the county and the fact that it would essentially turn short-stay spaces into long-stay ones.

It also warns of the ‘practical difficulties associated with such a scheme plus significant costs associated with administration and enforcement of such a scheme’.

Laura Baile, the store manager at Costa in Alnwick town centre, who started the petition, could not attend the meeting, but had submitted further details of how a workers’ permit system could work, including the use of a priority banding system.

However, Coun Mark Swinburn, who represents the Cramlington Village ward, reflected on the staff permit system used at Manor Walks and said that to ask the council to manage and pay for a similar scheme but on a wider scale ‘is going to be very, very difficult’.

Coun Trevor Cessford said that the only way these issues, which happen in all towns, are going to be solved is by creating extra long-stay spaces.

The committee unanimously agreed to note the issues, but not to support the request for workers’ permits.

James Matthewson, chairman of Alnwick Labour Party, has said he is ‘outraged’ both that the petition is being ignored and that the changes ‘will make parking problems for customers and businesses worse’.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service