Council groups continue their parking row

NORTHUMBERLAND County Council has been accused of ignoring an online parking petition.

It was set up by the Labour group to highlight the cost of parking charges in towns where fees are levied such as Morpeth.

Thousands of signatures were collected in the area and others in the north and west of the county, but despite the petition closing on February 26, no information has been revealed about the total number of people who gave their backing.

Parking is currently free in towns across the county’s south east area.

Labour group Chairman Ian Swithenbank said: “It’s clear this isn’t an issue the council wanted to talk about, but to deliberately ignore a petition which contained many thousands of names of people who had taken the time to sign up must feel like a deliberate snub from the authority.

“The council has failed in its duty to allow the petition to be heard.”

The county council said it was unable to comment.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrat group has called on the Conservatives to give full details about its budget plans as it would cost an estimated £4million to provide free parking in the north and west area towns and the Tories have said they would not increase council tax.

Lib Dem Leader of the council Jeff Reid said: “The Conservatives can’t have it both ways. They cannot say they want to freeze council tax and offer £4million worth of free parking without telling us how they’re going to pay for it.

“Either way, they need to come clean about their plans and end this damaging uncertainty. They need to be honest about what they will cut to pay for their promises.”

In response, Conservative group leader Peter Jackson said: “As Coun Reid well knows, our plans for free parking for residents has been appraised by the council’s officers in a formal report which his own Liberal Democrats rejected.

“We have been to the fore for the last four years in fighting against this massive injustice.”