Parking charges are set to be increased or introduced in a number of car parks up and down the Northumberland coast.
The local authority has allocated £10million to fund parking improvements across the county, which has seen detailed studies carried out and action plans drawn up for the market towns of Alnwick, Berwick, Hexham and Morpeth.
Elsewhere, a range of proposals and improvements are being considered or carried out and the programme is well under way, expanding and refurbishing existing car parks or creating new ones in many towns and villages.
To help fund this, at its meeting next Tuesday (November 13), Northumberland County Council’s cabinet is being recommended to approve new charges at a number of council-owned car parks, subject to consultation.
At Seahouses, Craster, Newton-by-the-Sea and the Holy Island coach park where charging is already in place, the tariffs would be increased. For the main car park on Lindisfarne, any increase is subject to negotiations regarding the renewal of the lease.
The first hour at Seahouses would remain free, but the proposed charges would then be £3.50 for up to three hours and £5.50 all day.
In Craster, there would be a £3 three-hour option or a £4 all-day fee, while the Newton-by-the-Sea car parks would see the charges double, for example, 50p for one hour becomes £1, and £2 all day becomes £4.
A number of car parks which are free at present would see charges introduced, notably Bamburgh where it would cost £3.50 for three hours or £5.50 all day.
In Beadnell, the charges would be £1.50 for three hours or £3 all day, while the same fees would apply in Blyth’s Beachway, Mermaid and Ranch car parks, Fountain Head in Seaton Sluice and at Cresswell, however, in the latter five, there would be an option to park for an hour for free.
The report to councillors explains that ‘the proposed tariff at Bamburgh car park reflects that which is proposed for Seahouses as these are two of the main visitor destinations in the county and as such have the highest level of demand for parking services’.
It is also proposed to introduce daily charges at four railway stations – Alnmouth (northbound side), Morpeth (south), Haltwhistle and Prudhoe. The cost would be £1.50 a day at Alnmouth and £3 a day at the other three.
Following on from the introduction of fees at other country parks, charges are set to be introduced at Tyne Riverside Country Park in Prudhoe, where the first hour would be free, but up to two hours would be £1.60 and all day £3.
Consultation will also be carried out on proposals to increase the cost of an annual parking pass, which are far less frequently used since free parking was introduced in most places, from £130 a year to £225.
Coun Glen Sanderson, the cabinet member for local services, said: “We know parking is an issue about which many people feel strongly and that’s why we’ve invested so much in improvements.
“There’s an urgent need to provide more spaces in our county and we’ve worked closely with our parish and town council colleagues to increase capacity in our towns and villages and there is still a lot more to come.
“However, there are absolutely no plans to introduce parking charges in existing town-centre car parks.
“Maintaining and improving our everyday front-line services is of the greatest importance to us. At the same time, we need to service our debt and, more importantly, we need to continue to generate investment income to allow us to safeguard and improve these front-line services.”
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service