Don’t increase charges

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TOWN councillors have restated their opposition to any moves to increase Morpeth parking charges.

Last month, the authority’s Finance and General Purposes Committee spoke out against the potential for rises in hourly rates to cover the costs of introducing the Morpeth shoppers’ permit countywide.

And they wrote to Northumberland County Council suggesting that other options, such as increasing council tax or using other parts of the budget, should be considered instead.

Now the committee has received a holding statement from the county authority until its position is clearer.

Committee Chairman David Parker said: “It will be regrettable if the county council does increase car-parking charges in Morpeth for any reason whatsoever.

“There is absolutely no reason in my view for increasing them.

“I hope that it will not intend to recoup any losses by increasing car-parking charges in that way, but obviously the letter is a holding letter and we will have to see what happens.”

The county council has approved the countywide roll-out of the shoppers’ permit scheme, which allows holders free parking in designated car parks between 9am and 11am and 3pm to 6pm.

But despite imposing a £15 charge per permit issued, the authority estimates that it will lose £200,000 in revenue.

To offset the loss, officers have suggested increasing the parking charges where they currently apply, such as in Morpeth, Alnwick, Berwick and Hexham, while maintaining free parking in the south east of the county.