MORPETH is missing out on valuable business because of parking problems, it has been claimed.
Businesswoman Josie Donaldson, who has run The Complementary Therapy Clinic in Newgate Street for 18 years, has decided to take some of her trade away from the town.
And if she continues to be hit with parking fines and threats of tickets, she says her whole business could follow.
“Morpeth is so lovely, but the council is making it a misery with the parking problems,” she said.
Mrs Donaldson said there are not enough long-stay spaces for workers and when people have to park in short-stay car parks there is not enough flexibility from traffic wardens.
She attracts clients from across the country to her clinic, as well as students from around the world.
And in January she was planning to book a venue in the town, as she has done many times before, for biochemical aromatherapy workshops, which will be attended by 25 students, including ten from Japan and one from Ireland.
But after picking up two parking tickets in a month she says the situation has made it impossible to hold the courses in Morpeth and has switched to a venue in Cramlington, where parking is free.
“I could have had them in Morpeth because I was willing to pay for parking passes, but the students would be out all the time trying to find spaces,” she said.
“The courses start at 10am so there won’t be any long-stay spaces left and the students would be having to leave the course every two hours to move their cars so I have cancelled the booking for Morpeth and am going to Cramlington. Not only is it cheaper to hire a room there, but parking is free.
“The people on the courses would have had lunch in Morpeth every day, they would have bought things here and the last time we had people staying in B&Bs in Morpeth. Now all of that will go to Cramlington.
“I treat people from all over the country and after their treatment they would stay here and do some shopping, but now they have two-hour parking so they have their treatment and leave and do their shopping in Newcastle or York on the way home.
“This is what this problem is doing to Morpeth, it is killing it.”
Mrs Donaldson said many people have complained of getting parking tickets even if they are just a few minutes late, while she has been threatened with one while unloading outside her business.
“If I’m going to keep getting tickets I will leave Morpeth. I don’t want to because I’m well established here, but it is getting more and more stressful. It’s just something silly like car parking, but it can ruin my whole day because it feels like I’m trying to rush people out as quickly as I can, which I don’t want to do just to move my car.
“The days when you have an all-day space are bliss — you can relax.
“I live in Morpeth and I don’t want to move my business and take other money out of Morpeth that comes with that because of parking, but it is so hard.
“If you have a business in Morpeth I don’t know why the council can’t give a bit of leeway of ten minutes or so. That would help us a bit.
“I have a parking disc so I’m not trying to evade paying or do anything illegal — I just want to park all day.”
The Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade has requested a meeting with Northumberland County Council’s Parking Manager Lynne Ryan to discuss the problems.
Chairman John Beynon said: “We are having a lot of problems with parking, the traffic wardens and the restrictions.
“We are happy that the wardens are in the town to move people on who are abusing the system, but they are not giving any leeway, it is just black and white.
“We are an ancient market town and we want people to be able to park in the town easily enough and stay here for long periods. In the short-stay car parks people are rushing back and not staying in Morpeth.
“The wardens are fairly strict and we think a little bit of common sense should be used. The prime example is 8.30am on a Sunday when we were putting hanging baskets out and we were told to move on.
“We are getting a lot of complaints. If not daily then every other day either a trader or member of the public is coming to see me about these problems.”
Northumberland County Council was unable to comment.