Summer meetings to thrash out issues for free parking

The new Labour administration at County Hall is pushing forward with its scheme to allow town and parish councils to decide if they want free parking.

The concept of the group’s Free Parking for All policy is that free parking will apply, if the town or parish wants it.

Letters went out to towns and parishes at the end of May explaining that officers from the county council’s parking team will be meeting with town and parish councillors to discuss specific concerns relating to each town or village.

It is hoped that these meetings can take place over July and August so that progress can be made in the autumn on developing the relevant parking schemes.

Towns and villages where parking charges currently apply, such as Alnwick, Bamburgh, Beadnell, Craster, Holy Island, Newton-by-the-Sea, Rothbury, Seahouses and Wooler, will be designated lead councils. Other councils will be able to have an input, but through the lead councils.

The Labour plan of allowing towns and parishes to make the decision was criticised in a letter to the Gazette last week from Conservative group leader Coun Peter Jackson.

But council leader Grant Davey said: “It’s time that local communities decided how they’re going to manage their own traffic issues and whether free parking will suit their particular areas.

“We promised that a Labour administration would deliver free parking across the county if that’s what local people wanted and that’s what we’re going to do in partnership with town and parish councils.

“The council has written to town and parishes to set out how we’ll help them come up with their own traffic management plans and we’ll be agreeing individual timescales depending on how quickly the towns and parishes can get on with their traffic management plans.

“Our plan is to let communities decide on this matter and we’re hopeful that both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will get behind this policy and will constructively participate in the forthcoming discussions.

“It’s time to take the politics out of parking and get on with delivering what local communities have been calling for for so long.”