Park­ing fees plan con­cerns


The Chronicle - - News - By BEN O’CONNELL Lo­cal democ­racy re­porter [email protected]­ @ben­jaminoc

THE coun­cil’s lead­er­ship has said it is tak­ing on board all views as pro­pos­als to in­tro­duce seafront park­ing charges in Blyth con­tinue to cause con­cern.

As pre­vi­ously re­ported, to help fund a £10m in­vest­ment in park­ing improvements across Northum­ber­land, the county coun­cil is propos­ing in­tro­duc­ing or in­creas­ing charges in a num­ber of coastal car parks.

The pro­posed charges, which are cur­rently out for con­sul­ta­tion but were backed by the coun­cil’s cab­i­net last month, would ap­ply in three car parks in Blyth – Beach­way, Mer­maid and the Ranch.

The first hour would still be free but up to three hours’ park­ing would cost £1.50 and all day would be £3.

Con­cerned res­i­dents have launched a pe­ti­tion – yc­sw8sfx – against the in­tro­duc­tion of charges, which now has more than 1,600 sig­na­tures, while the pro­pos­als came in for more crit­i­cism at this week’s meet­ing of the coun­cil’s com­mu­ni­ties and place com­mit­tee.

Blyth ward mem­bers Couns Eileen Car­tie and Jeff Reid both raised a num­ber of is­sues.

How­ever, Coun Glen Sanderson, the cab­i­net mem­ber for lo­cal ser­vices, em­pha­sised the coun­cil is lis­ten­ing to all of the feed­back.

He said: “This is a set of pro­pos­als out for con­sul­ta­tion and con­sul­ta­tion means just that. It is not, this is what is go­ing to hap­pen, full stop.”

He added the charges are so the coun­cil can make improvements and cre­ate new spa­ces, which in Blyth means work to im­prove the sur­fac­ing of the Ranch car park, to be un­der­taken early next year, while in­vest­ment of around £60,000 for the Mer­maid play area is also be­ing con­sid­ered.

“This is not money which is go­ing to go flood­ing into buy­ing park­ing spa­ces in Hexham,“Coun Sanderson added.

How­ever, Coun Car­tie said: “Why should res­i­dents have to pay to go to the beach when it has been free for years?

“It is not all about tak­ing money off peo­ple, it is about them en­joy­ing their com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties. I am only say­ing what my con­stituents are say­ing to me.”

Coun Liz Dunn, who rep­re­sents the Lynemouth ward and later raised con­cerns about sim­i­lar charg­ing pro­pos­als at Cress­well, said: “I have to agree with Eileen. I think it is bi­ased to­wards tourists and will put off our own peo­ple from go­ing there.”

Coun Sanderson re­sponded: “What we are try­ing to do is raise in­come to make some improvements in Blyth. It is not tax­ing peo­ple for the sake of it.

“It is in­tro­duc­ing a fair charge for tourists and for lo­cal peo­ple who want to stay for more than an hour.

”Even af­ter that, it is much less than North or South Ty­ne­side.”

Coun Reid was more mea­sured in his crit­i­cism, say­ing: “I have faith enough in the ad­min­is­tra­tion that you are pre­pared to lis­ten, that it is not a done deal. The prob­lem is there is un­re­stricted park­ing nearby. You just need to think about the im­pact out­side the di­rect area where you want to charge be­cause peo­ple’s re­sis­tance to pay­ing some­thing when there is an al­ter­na­tive is ac­tu­ally quite high.”

Sug­ges­tions for amend­ments to the pro­pos­als in­cluded sea­sonal charges rather than all year round, al­low­ing two hours of free park­ing or re­duc­ing the daily rate to £1.50.

Coun Ru­pert Gibson said: “It is worth re­mem­ber­ing it is not just the coun­cil charg­ing for park­ing, it is peo­ple such as English Her­itage, Na­tional Trust and even the Na­tional


Coun Glen Sanderson

Park­ing charges on Blyth seafront con­tinue to cause con­cern

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