A FRESH appeal has gone out to residents and businesses in Morpeth to show their support for free parking.
Morpeth Town Council is planning to remove charges at all county council-managed car parks from April 1 next year for a 12-month trial and its proposal is currently out for consultation.
Members of the public are being asked to fill in a short questionnaire about this and associated issues and the deadline is next Thursday.
The Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade has been calling for free parking to put the town on a level playing field with places such as Ashington, Blyth and Cramlington, where motorists do not have to pay to stop in county council-run facilities.
And with time running out to respond, it has been raising awareness of the survey across Morpeth this week and making more of the forms available.
Vice chairman Charles Robinson said: “Having presided over a five-year campaign to introduce a fair parking system across the county, we are urging all residents, workers and visitors to the town to complete this questionnaire and make sure it is back with the town council before the end of the month.
“Completion of the survey is not restricted to one per business or household or even residents of the town only – we recommend that anyone who uses the car parks should complete the questionnaire and encourage their work colleagues, friends and family to do likewise.
“Paper copies of the questionnaire are available for collection from the Town Hall, Morpeth Library, Stait Photography near the Market Place, Rickard Chartered Surveyors in Newgate Street and Osborne Jewellers in Bridge Street.”
Nine facilities very close to the town centre would have a maximum stay of three hours and it is envisaged that this would be controlled through the use of time discs.
If the proposal goes ahead following the consultation, the town council will assess any benefits or negative consequences. It is hoped that it will bring more residents and visitors to the town centre and provide a significant boost to the local economy.
As well as the question about the removal of charges, the survey also covers the number of car-parking spaces in the town, time restrictions on particular days and at certain times every day and whether some very short-stay spaces (up to 20 minutes) should be introduced in some on-street locations.
At a meeting of the chamber on Monday, members Charles Sellers and John Beynon said they believe the questionnaire could have been phrased better and it is quite restrictive in what it is trying to put forward.
Mr Sellers added: “I question the need for a consultation to find out what we already know – that the vast majority of people in the town are in favour of free parking.”
Deputy Mayor of Morpeth, Coun Nic Best, said: “It’s very important that we do carry out consultation on major issues such as this because it provides firm evidence for a proposal and can lend weight to a particular viewpoint.”
The survey can also be completed online at www.morpeth-tc.gov.uk