Parking strategy is unjust

IN my recent election material I told my fellow constituents that I would pursue the unfair situation relating to parking charges in Alnwick.

I was aware that a consultation process was under way and that a strategy would be devised for dealing with the future of parking charges across the county.

In my naivety, I expected that all of our county councillors for Alnwick area would have been fighting our corner and that a common sense agreement would have been reached.

The Lib Dem administration at Northumberland County Council has recently accepted a new strategy for parking charges. This strategy is flawed in at least three crucial ways.

Firstly, it does nothing to address the (by now familiar) fairness argument. It is unfair that residents of Alnwick, Berwick and Morpeth have to pay to park in their local town, while residents in Blyth and Ashington may do so for free.

North Northumberland is subsidising free parking elsewhere in the county.

The new parking strategy includes no proposals to address this unfairness, instead opting to ‘delegate’ future decisions on charge levels to the council administration.

One sensible proposal is for local people to be given a ‘shopper’s permit’, enabling them to park at no cost during the morning and afternoon. However, the Lib Dems have rejected this out of hand.

Secondly, the council is continuing to use parking charges as a means of generating as much income as possible. Parking charges should be a tool for encouraging tourism, managing traffic at peak times and for reducing net emissions. Instead, the Lib Dems continue to fleece people in North Northumberland by using parking charges as a blunt and heavy handed tax.

Finally, the Lib Dems’ parking plan ignores that parking charges might be used as a means of stimulating economic growth. What better way to signal that Alnwick is open for business by ending a parking charge regime that indiscriminately punishes people for wanting to shop in Alnwick?

Coun Bruce Hewison,

West Acre House,

West Acres,