PARKING permit holders in Morpeth could soon be hit with costly fines as some claim they have not been informed of changes to the rules.
The Morpeth residents’ permit was introduced by the former Castle Morpeth Borough Council to allow residents free parking in the town during quieter periods of the day, but it has recently faced an uncertain future as Northumberland County Council debated whether it should continue.
Following public outcry, the authority did agree to keep the permit in operation and extend it countywide.
But as the Herald has previously reported, there will now be a £15 charge per permit issued, they will have to be renewed every two years and can only be used in certain car parks.
The council said it would write to existing holders to advise them on the changes, which came into force this month.
However, two residents have come forward in the last week to say they have not been informed.
And now they want to warn others as fines will start to be issued next month for those using their old permits.
Loansdean resident Stuart Hendy heard about the changes by chance after bumping into an old friend in the town who was on the way to get an application form for the new permit.
He said: “I have had a parking permit for several years since the system started. Some time ago I got a newsletter to say they were going to issue new permits and to carry on using the existing ones until further notice — I have had no notice since.
“When I contacted the council I was told I wasn’t on the system. It appears that they have incomplete records of all the people who got the permits from Castle Morpeth and they have no idea how complete or incomplete they are. That means they have no idea how many people will get parking tickets as a result.
“Apparently, these changes came into effect on May 1, but they are being lenient until the end of the month. That means that anybody who has the old permit and hasn’t been contacted to inform them of the change is going to be getting parking tickets.
“It is yet another blow to the citizens of Morpeth.”
The 76-year-old added: “I will have to apply for a new permit and pay the charge because I use it all the time. My wife and I very often go into Morpeth first thing in the morning when we can use the permit, which is great.
“I just want to give a warning to people about the changes.”
There was an almost identical tale from Michael Parish, of Pottery Bank.
He said: “Nobody has written to us. If you have got a permit after April 1, 2009, you are on record, but if you have had one since the scheme first started you are not on the list of names and addresses.
“They are giving people until June 1 to get a new permit and it is sensible to give people a month to get it done, but if you didn’t know about the changes how would you know to get it done? You will get a parking ticket.
“It is wrong that people don’t know.”
Council Parking Manager Lynne Ryan said: “The former Morpeth residents’ parking permit has been withdrawn and replaced by a new countywide scheme for all Northumberland residents. This has been in place from May 1, but we have allowed a grace period up to the end of May 2012 to allow existing permit holders time to apply for a new Northumberland Shoppers Permit.”
The new permit will allow holders to park free in certain car parks from 9am to 11am and 3pm to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, and all day on Sundays and Bank Holidays, subject to normal time limits in individual car parks.
In Morpeth the car parks included in the scheme are Stanley Terrace North and South and Newmarket East and West.
To apply for a permit call into a council information centre, visit parking.northumberland.gov.uk or call 0845 600 6400.