Free parking to continue in Northumberland towns
Free parking is expected to continue in most of Northumberland’s car parks next year – although drivers at tourist hotspots are likely to be hit in the pocket.
Bosses at Northumberland County Council are busy drawing up spending plans for the 2022/23 financial year, with the coronavirus pandemic, inflation and soaring energy costs all adding to headaches for decision makers.
And as the local authority seeks to balance the books, waste services are also in its sight as a potential source of extra income.
“Within the proposals for local services, there are proposals around car parking charges – not in town centres but in some of the car parks used by tourists,” said Jan Willis, the council’s interim executive director of finance.
“There are also proposals around income from bulky, garden and trade waste.
“And there’s a very large number for the income from the sale of energy generated at waste plants, an example of where we’ve benefitted from the increased utility prices.”
Speaking at the council’s Corporate Services and Economic Growth Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Ms Willis also warned households are likely to see another year of council tax rises to make ends meet.
Free parking is available in most of the council-managed car parks in the county’s main towns, although it is often limited in the busiest areas.
In the most popular tourist attractions however, particularly along the coast, in areas such as Alnmouth, Beadnell and Bamburgh, as well as Corbridge, in the Tyne Valley, charges apply.
The planned Northumberland Line rail project has also ignited debates over parking, with proposals to offer free parking at stations for two years after the route opens, scaled back to just 12 months.
“We do not wish to introduce car parking charges in town centre car parks,” Glen Sanderson, the leader of the council, told the panel.
“That costs this council a significant amount of money and it’s difficult to maintain that, given we’re all working on tight budgets.
“But we feel that’s so important to encourage people to come to our market towns and to spend money there, rather than being attracted to large shopping malls.”