Car parks gear up for time change

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ALL of Morpeth’s car parks have been reclassified to change the maximum length of stay.

Northumberland County Council has carried out a review of car parks in areas where charges are levied to introduce a more consistent structure.

The proposals, which focus on providing short-stay spaces closest to town centres and long-stay bays further away, were accepted unanimously by the authority’s Planning and Environment Committee last week.

In Morpeth the changes will see facilities split into two groups — a maximum three-hour stay for premium car parks, or a flexible option offering all-day parking.

Plans to change the Newmarket East car park from five hours to all day were scrapped following objections during consultation and it will now be set at three hours, along with Back Riggs North, Castle Square, Corporation Yard, Dacre Street, Newmarket West, Stanley Terrace North and South, and Whalebone Lane.

The Terrace will also become a three-hour car park, despite objections from workers that it will lead to a shortfall in all-day parking bays.

However, the change will only be introduced after the new long-stay Staithes Lane car park opens.

All-day car parks will be at Dark Lane, Grey’s Yard, Mathesons Gardens and St James’s.

Charges will be levied between 8am and 6pm, but specific tariffs were not part of the review.

An amendment to orders for loading bays has also been approved to prevent disabled blue-badge holders from parking in them.

Committee Chairman Trevor Thorne said: “This is trying to harmonise charges across the county, apart from those areas that don’t have car parking charges.”

The Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade has largely welcomed the changes.

Chairman of its Car Parking Sub-committee Charles Robinson said: “Broadly speaking, we welcome this scheme.

“We were very concerned about Newmarket East going to all-day because it is very close to the main retail area and it is important that car parks closest to the centre are as far as possible for short-stay shoppers so we’re pleased this has been changed.

“Going from two to three hours is welcome because a lot of people have said that by the time they have been to the hairdressers’ or dentist they don’t have time to do any shopping in the town. We have been leaking trade because people just haven’t had long enough to do their shopping.”

Mr Robinson said the same tariff structure must be applied to the new Staithes Lane car park.

And he questioned why car parks in the south east of the county, where there are no charges, have not been included in the review.

“There must be pressure on some of the car parks in south east Northumberland so why are they not being looked at for periods of stay?” he said.

“Originally, the car park model, which we considered had merit, did include them and it was going to apply to all car parks, irrespective of whether they charged or not.

“We think this is reaffirming that the present administration has no intention, either now or in the foreseeable future, of applying any parking charges whatsoever in any of the car parks in south east Northumberland.”

Mr Robinson will be seeking a meeting with Corporate Director of Local Services Caroline Bruce to discuss various parking concerns, including charges and signage.