Workers’ parking petition falls on deaf ears at council

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CHANGES to time restrictions in a Morpeth car park will not be reconsidered, despite a petition from town workers.

Under Northumberland County Council’s Parking Strategy the aim is to provide short-stay parking closest to town centres, where demand is at a premium, and long-stay spaces in less central facilities.

In a countywide review of spaces, the authority initially suggested changing Morpeth’s Newmarket East car park from a maximum five-hour stay to all-day.

However, during consultation several objections were received and the proposal was amended to limit the car park to three hours instead, with the changes coming into force in November.

Now an 81-name petition has been submitted to the council’s North Area Committee from parking permit holders and Morpeth workers complaining that the town already has inadequate long-stay parking, particularly as the development of a supermarket at Dark Lane has taken one of the car parks out of use.Workers say they are having to move their cars every three hours from short-stay facilities, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find any spaces.

In a letter to the committee, Glynis Buchan said: “There were too few long-stay/all-day car parking places before the new tariffs for those of us who work in Morpeth.

“At the present time, you can not arrive later than 8.05am to park in an all-day space. As a result, many workers are having to leave their work place every three hours, providing they have the approval of their employers, to move cars and have been told by the wardens they must actually leave the car park and find a space elsewhere. This is proving to be an almost fruitless task, exacerbated in the run-up to Christmas.”

However, Parking Services Manager Lynne Ryan reported that the changes were subject to appropriate consultation, with notices placed in county car parks before the final structure was agreed.

She said that as the petition was submitted after the implementation it was not possible to consider it within the consultation process.

But she added that the council is aware of a shortage of long-stay parking in Morpeth due to the supermarket development and measures are in place to ease the problem, such as the provision of a temporary car park next to Telford Bridge and maintaining all-day parking at The Terrace until a new underground car park is available.

The committee noted the petition, but agreed that no further action would be taken.

A council spokeswoman said: “A consultation on changes to parking tariffs in all of the council managed pay and display car parks had previously taken place and decisions on the new tariffs were made following the responses from the consultation and subsequent approval by committee.

“The petition regarding the changes to the time restrictions in Newmarket East car park was received following implementation of the agreed changes therefore the petition has been noted, but no action taken.

“As outlined in the report to the North Area Committee, the council fully appreciates the parking problems currently being experienced in Morpeth as a result of the supermarket development and recent tariff changes. As such, there have been interim measures put in place to assist with the long-stay parking problems in the town.

“The situation is changing on a week by week basis. It is hoped that the former Dark Lane car park next to Morrison’s petrol station will re-open, releasing approximately 60 long-stay spaces back into use. Sanderson Arcade has also made arrangements for approximately 40 long-stay spaces within the new supermarket undercroft car park at Staithes Lane.

“The council will continue to allow long-stay parking in The Terrace car park until the new undercroft car park is ready and officially opened to the public.

“The council will continue to monitor the situation, working in partnership with the supermarket developers and Sanderson Arcade to manage the situation during this time of disruption.”

The Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade supported the changes at Newmarket East to ensure shoppers have access to spaces.

However, member Charles Robinson, who heads the group’s Car Parking Sub-Committee, says the chamber recognises that there is also a shortage of long-stay parking.

He said: “We supported the change to three-hour because we thought the proposal to make it an all-day car park was totally wrong. With the closure of Manchester Street and the loss of Back Riggs car parks that part of the town around Newgate Street and the Market Place has suffered and we felt Newmarket East should be three-hour so shoppers can park there.

“We do recognise that there is a massive problem for workers parking in Morpeth. It is tremendously difficult at the moment, particularly with the loss of the car park at the Morrison’s petrol station. The council has helped by providing a short-term car park at the former Davidson’s site, but it isn’t enough and we do desperately need it to address this problem.”