Free scheme rubbished

CALLS for a free Northumberland residents’ parking scheme have been rubbished by a senior Morpeth councillor.

Northumberland County Council Executive Member Andrew Tebbutt has hit out at the proposals by the Conservative group, saying the figures do not add up.

And he warned that if the plans go ahead it will put an even greater burden on council taxpayers and will do nothing to address congestion problems.

“The finances just don’t stack up.

“It basically is the Sheriff of Nottingham approach — rob the poor to fund the rich,” he said.

“Coun Jackson’s assertion that tourists and visitors would fund it wouldn’t make sense. Council taxpayers will be subsidising car parking even more than they are now.

“I’m on record as stating that I support the Morpeth shoppers’ permit approach, but this proposal doesn’t in any way address the issue of traffic management or the issue of trying to manage congestion.

“It spreads the free parking periods across the whole day, rather than when it is quieter at lunch-times.

“We have to encourage residents to park at different times, which is why the time limits are on the existing shoppers’ permit.

“We have been evaluating the outcome of a survey on the shoppers’ permits, but we are looking at that from a strategic point of view, not from a vote-attracting approach, which is what I think the Tory approach is.”

Coun Tebbutt also fiercely rejected claims that car parking charges are seen as a ‘cash cow’ for the authority.

“It just isn’t true,” he said.

“If it were a cash cow we would have introduced charges everywhere straight away and we would have put charges up.

“We also would have extended the county permit price, not reduced it.

“It used to cost £180 in Tynedale, now it is £110.”

The councillor also criticised Coun Jackson for announcing his proposals to business groups, rather than in the council chamber, and said he was disappointed that he had not been allowed to attend the Chamber of Trade meeting.

“When I asked if I could attend the meeting I was told I couldn’t. I was denied access,” he said.