Row starts over parking bays in Ashington

A business owner has bemoaned ‘piecemeal changes’ to parking in Ashington after a residents’ parking zone was brought in based on a handful of responses.

By Ben O'Connell
Thursday, 25th February 2021, 10:00 am
Laburnum Terrace in Ashington and the parking bays which are causing issues. Picture taken from Google
Laburnum Terrace in Ashington and the parking bays which are causing issues. Picture taken from Google

Last year, under delegated powers, Northumberland County Council approved changes in the Laburnum Terrace/Acacia Terrace area, with resident parking permits and time limits introduced.

The local authority said it was based on complaints from residents and then subject to public consultation and discussion with the ward member, Coun Tom Wilson.

However, Andy McGregor, of McGregor Opticians, said: “As a business owner, I and other traders in Laburnum Terrace feel the needs of our businesses are not being considered and the wishes of a small number of local residents, who seem to believe they have an exclusive right to park outside their houses, are being given priority over a more sensible wider-ranging consideration of the best interests of the town.

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“I have called, with others, for a halt to piecemeal changes until a proper review of parking has been undertaken.”

He also highlighted that the consultation received just nine responses – with the council saying that 66 properties were contacted – five of which were in favour, with two against and two neutral.

“Hardly an adequate basis on which to effectively remove parking spaces in the town centre,” he added.

Another strand of the issue is that at least one resident who lives further north on Laburnum Terrace has been denied the ability to apply for a permit, because she does not live immediately adjacent to the parking area, despite previously using it.

Looking ahead to the May 2021 elections, Mr McGregor suggested this was the type of decision which showed that elected members did not represent the varied interests in the town, with both the county council seats and town council dominated by Labour, many of whom were elected unopposed.

However, after asking a question at the December meeting of Ashington Town Council, Mr McGregor was told that this authority was not in favour of the changes either.

He asked: “Why does the town council think reducing the number of parking spaces in the Laburnum Terrace is necessary, how it helps businesses in town to thrive, offering services and employment opportunities to local residents and how it fits in with a wider review of parking provision in the town?

“Also, what does the council think of the fact that residents of properties very near to the car park are not able to purchase a residents parking permit although they have used that parking space for several years and there is ample space there outside business hours?”

The clerk explained that the town council had expressed concerns that businesses on Laburnum Terrace were not consulted, but were told by county council officers that it was an issue for residents.

“I think it’s the view of the town council that to have something like that as residents’ parking when it’s clearly in proximity to the town centre was a surprise at this particular time,” he added.

“As you rightly say, the town council shares your views that parking in the town centre, both currently and traffic management in general are seriously in need of a strategic review.”

A Northumberland County Council spokesman said: “The new scheme was introduced after a number of complaints from local residents about a lack of parking in the area – and the number of non-residents who were parking in these streets all day.

“66 properties were consulted and following the consultation and discussion with the local county councillor, it was agreed to introduce a resident parking permit zone for those who live on these streets, while also bringing in time restrictions to allow people to visit local shops and businesses and then vacate the spaces for others.

“Alternative long-term parking for business owners or visitors is still available nearby.”