Hopes rise for free parking during roadworks

FREE parking during Morpeth’s roadworks has not been ruled out.

Northumberland County Council Network Manager Dick Phillips attended a meeting of Morpeth traders on Monday to hear their concerns about the one-way system.

He said he would be reluctant to support free parking seven days a week as it could attract even more customers to the town than usual, putting the system under too much pressure.

But he said officers are collecting data about the usage of car parks and if it is significantly down, free periods may be considered.

He added that he would support a Saturday offer.

“Whereas I couldn’t support the concept of free parking everywhere, every day, I can support the principle of free parking on a Saturday,” he said.

“There is not as much traffic on a Saturday as during the week. Extra traffic could cause a lot of trouble, but on a Saturday I can see no reason why we can’t do that and I will be taking that back to my manager.”

Mr Phillips also agreed to investigate the possibility of a park-and-ride scheme, but said it would depend on negotiations with bus operators.

It is unlikely that extra rail services will be offered.

The highways boss was questioned about the schedule of work over concerns about a lack of workers on the ground.

But Mr Phillips said he was satisfied that the companies involved are doing the best they can and the work is already ahead of schedule.

He added that changes may be made to the programme to enable a right turn from Telford Bridge to be reinstated more quickly than originally planned.

However, he rejected calls for work to take place at night due to legal restrictions on noise levels for residential areas.

And he said little can be done about congestion around Morpeth Clock Tower due to pedestrian crossings, which must take priority for road safety.

Mr Phillips said the council is trying to promote the message that the town is open for business and may change the illuminated roadworks signage to emphasise it.