Parking charges on the way out, but not in all parishes

Car-parking charges in some Northumberland towns and villages look set to be scrapped this year following consultation with towns and parishes.

A report will go before the county council’s scrutiny committee next week to inform councillors that some parish/town councils, such as Alnwick, Bamburgh, Beadnell, Rothbury and Wooler, wish to see charges removed in council car parks and/or on-street parking places.

It follows the authority’s offer to all town and parish councils of the chance to remove the charges which are currently in place.

But while the majority agree with the introduction of free parking, others such as Craster, Holy Island, Newton-by-the-Sea and Seahouses, have asked to retain parking charges as part of a wider traffic-management plan.

In the case of Craster, Holy Island and Newton-by-the-Sea, the parish councils feel that the introduction of free parking would merely exacerbate an existing problem in car parks which are primarily used by visitors and not locals.

In Seahouses, the parish council feels that free parking would have a detrimental effect on North Sunderland Harbour Commission which relies on the income generated from charges in the harbour area.

Coun Ian Swithenbank, policy board member for streetcare and environment, said: “We wanted to leave the decision to local communities on whether or not to introduce free car parking. They have now given us their views.

“While we believe there are real benefits to free parking, we understand and appreciate that for traffic-management reasons, some communities may be unable to take up the offer.”