Parking data to help review

MORPETH town councillors have been assured they will get detailed information to help them decide whether to keep or remove parking charges.

The authority recently decided to ask its planning and transport committee to review the principles behind its parking policy as a starting point for future negotiations.

But members said that it would be impossible to come up with any potential new strategy until the county council provided important statistics and data about what it is proposing.

Now the Northumberland-wide authority has responded by saying these matters will be addressed at meetings with ‘lead parish and town councils’, which include Morpeth.

A letter to them from Lynne Ryan, Parking Services Manager, says: “As a lead council, you will be responsible for preparing a community parking plan that considers alternatives to charging where traffic-management problems exist rather than choosing charging as an easy option.”

The county council is looking to have meetings with these authorities after July 25, where officers will provide relevant information about car-parking income, enforcement statistics, place-specific parking data (including data on privately-owned car parks), traffic-management details and guidance on its community parking plan.

Its leader, Grant Davey, said: “It’s time that local communities decide how they’re going to manage their own traffic issues and whether free parking will suit their particular area. We have written to town and parish councils to set out how we’ll help them come up with their own traffic management plans and we’ll be agreeing individual timescales depending on how quickly they can get on with their plans.

“Our plan is to let communities decide on this matter.”

Consultation will be carried out with residents and key stakeholders before any measures are put in place.

The town council’s planning and transport committee will hold an informal meeting about the issue on Monday, where members’ initial thoughts will be discussed. Then at its next formal meeting on Wednesday, they will vote on recommendations for the next full council meeting about how to proceed.

Of the county council’s response, Coun David Parker said: “This meeting with them will put more meat on the bone and, hopefully, we will get the necessary information to carry out a detailed review of our parking policy.”

The views of Morpeth’s four adjoining parish councils (Pegswood, Mitford, Hebron and Hepscott) will also be taken into account.