Parking machines trashed at Northumberland's Druridge Bay Country Park

The parking machines at a Northumberland beauty spot have been vandalised and are currently out of action until replacements are installed.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 5:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 12:32 am
One of the vandalised ticket machines at Druridge Bay Country Park.

The ticket machines at Druridge Bay Country Park, not just in the main car park by the visitor’s centre but also those around the lake’s edge, are covered with black bin bags at present.

Northumberland County Council has explained that this is as a result of a ‘mindless act’ of vandalism.

A spokeswoman said: “The parking machines in Druridge Bay were vandalised and are so badly damaged that they have to be replaced. We are currently commissioning new machines.

One of the signs explaining that a ticket is still required for the free first hour.

“This mindless act is very disappointing as the income received from the parking charges helps support our investment programme to improve facilities and services offered to park users.

“This vandalism has not only resulted in a loss of income, but will also mean that funds which would otherwise have been used for improvements to the country park will now have to be used to replace the parking machines.

“The police have been informed and we ask anyone with any information about this to provide this to them by calling 101.”

Parking charges were reintroduced in 2018 at Druridge Bay – as well as Plessey Woods Country Park, between Bedlington and Stannington, and Bolam Lake Country Park, near Morpeth – to help fund an almost £1million scheme by the council to improve and upgrade the three sites.

The first hour is free, but all-day parking costs £3, while up to two hours is £1.60. Seasonal permits valid in all three parks cost £35.

However, even if you are parking for the free hour or less, you still have to display a ticket – something which caught out a visitor to Druridge Bay Country Park before Christmas.

Matt Wilson, from York, was annoyed as he claimed that it does not explain that you need a ticket for the first hour.

The main signage does not mention it, but refers users to the ticket machines, which state: ‘First hour each day free. Press green button for ticket.’

The process is explained in detail on a separate A4-size sign, which is located by the machines, although it is closer and more obvious in some of the car parks than others.

Mr Wilson’s frustration was compounded by the fact that the website where those who receive penalty charge notices (PCNs) must go to pay or appeal their fines was not working for a number of days, despite his efforts to flag the issue up to the council on the phone.

Given that the fine is halved if you pay within the first 14 days, this website error could have affected people’s ability to pay the cheaper rate or appeal their PCN.

The council spokeswoman said at the time: “The ticket machines and signage at Druridge Bay do detail the fact that a ticket is required for the free first hour.

“There was a broken link on our website and this has now been rectified. Full details of all parking locations and conditions are available on this website.”