Traffic congestion woes frustrate residents of popular Northumberland seaside village

Craster residents have condemned inconsiderate visitors for causing traffic congestion.

The seaside village has been busier than ever this summer as Covid restrictions have eased and the staycation boom continues.

"It’s a very unhappy community at the moment with all the indiscriminate parking that’s going on,” said Cllr Michael Docherty.

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An experimental traffic management plan was introduced by Northumberland County Council in April with restrictions including a ‘gateway’ designed to encourage visitors into the main car park on the approach to the village and signage prohibiting drivers from driving further into the village unless it is to access their home or a business.

The new road layout on the approach to Craster.The new road layout on the approach to Craster.
The new road layout on the approach to Craster.

However, villagers say it is not working and have blamed the lack of enforcement, poor signage and inconsiderate visitors.

"Unless you have robust enforcement the scheme will never work,” said Cllr Docherty.

Bernard Jauregui, who lives on Dunstanburgh Road, told a meeting of Craster Parish Council: “Between 100 and 150 vehicles come to the end of that road on a daily basis looking for parking. It’s gridlock.”

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Fellow resident Marion Gallon, who called for improved signage, said: “It’s a death trap there, it really is, when you consider the mix of cars on that road and families walking on that road to head towards Dunstanburgh Castle.”

Other residents favoured the introduction of a residents’ parking permit on a trial basis.

Robin McCartney, county council highways infrastructure manager, said his team would look to see how the situation could be improved.

But he added: “A residents’ permit scheme (because it would have to be a dual scheme) would still allow short term parking of up to three hours. If you are going to allow short term parking for that period of time you are actually encouraging people to bring their cars in.

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"The current scheme is designed to encourage people to park in the car park. A residents’ parking scheme would make it worse. It’s inappropriate for Craster.

"To me, Craster is a living, working, vibrant village. Where do you draw the line on who is and isn’t allowed to park there? You need to balance the needs of residents with those of the wider community.”

Sgt Paul Sykes added: “My officers are not going to routinely stop people in Craster and question them about why they are there. I don’t think that would be appreciated by the wider public."

The parish council has called for a safety assessment of the current car park entrance and asked the council whether there is any scope for business parking permits. They also called for clarity on whether a residents’ parking scheme has to have dual use.

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Cllr Mark Green said: “The current scheme has been very limited in its success and has to be seen as a starting point in seeking a solution.

"Because of the way the streets are in Craster, if someone doesn't park in the car park they end up on this long tour around the village so on busy days we just get this procession of traffic which is dangerous to visitors and locals.”

Cllr Martin Smith, chairman, said: “It’s not going to be just one thing that fixes this. There are a multitude of issues to be looked at and we need answers to take to our residents so they can have their say.”

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