A Morpeth councillor has called for continued pressure on the rail companies who own land at the town’s train station in order to boost parking provision.
Northumberland County Council is already developing a scheme to create around 30 extra spaces at the station and will be submitting a planning application shortly – to be funded by the introduction of charges.
But there is a feeling that this will not be sufficient to tackle the pressure on the facility.
Proposals to introduce or hike fees in car parks across the county, in order to fund a programme of works, went out for consultation last year, proving very controversial in certain areas and sparking petitions.
As previously reported, the county council’s leadership has subsequently decided to row back on some of the suggestions and will now not be bringing in charges in a number of places where they were originally proposed.
However, the introduction of a £3-a-day charge in the council-owned car park at Morpeth railway station, in order to match the fee in the Northern Rail car park, is still to go ahead.
The updated proposals were approved by the cabinet on Tuesday, but also went before the communities and place committee last Wednesday.
Coun John Beynon, ward member for Morpeth Stobhill, said that it makes sense for the charges to be introduced to help pay for the extra spaces.
But he added: “There’s three or four estates around the station with problems with people parking there and causing disruption. The bin lorries couldn’t get down there recently.
“The 30 spaces will help, but can we keep putting pressure on Network Rail, because there’s a lot of land there?”
A report to councillors explained that the introduction of charges to help pay for the expansion had also been supported by Morpeth Town Council and the rail user group SENRUG.
More significant expansion of parking would require use of land that is currently owned by Network Rail and the council is in talks with both Network Rail and Northern Rail on this matter, the report adds.
In order to mitigate the impact of the new charges on rail users, the proposed increase in the annual countywide car-park pass is to be phased in over two years, with the charge being £195 in 2019-20 and £225 in 2020-21.
There will also continue to be three and six-month passes available, costing £64 and £108 respectively next year, and £72 and £123 in 2020-21.
Ben O’Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service