Traffic wardens hitting business, traders claim

BUSINESSES have hit out at Morpeth traffic wardens for harming trade and community work.

Complaints have been made about the unreasonable attitude of some of the county enforcement officers after people carrying out legitimate activities were told to move on or face a fine.

The latest incident came when volunteers from the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade gathered in the Market Place to organise the distribution of around 300 floral tubs and baskets for the town’s Bloom effort.

The displays had been collected from a contractor and about ten chamber members had turned up to help, parking three vehicles in the nearby taxi rank at 9am on a Sunday morning to transport the plants to sites around the town centre.

Chamber Chairman John Beynon said: “As we were doing this, the traffic warden came up and said that if we didn’t move the vehicles we would get a ticket. We all laughed, but she was serious.

“We explained what we were doing and told her we were just loading up, but we had to move our vehicles ten yards from the town square to the loading bay. We were all pleased when the traffic wardens came to Morpeth, but I think they have to have a bit of common sense.

“At 9.10am there were no other vehicles in the town and there were ten members trying to do their best for Morpeth. It was crazy.”

Northumberland County Council Head of Sustainable Transport Mike Scott said: “Our parking strategy states that local authority vehicles or those of their contractual agents will be exempt whilst they are being used to carry out statutory duties. However, we use our discretion to move them on as soon as possible.”

“In this case discretion was used to ensure that the taxi rank was freed up for its stated purpose as soon as possible.”

However, the chamber’s experience has not been the only issue of concern.

Tradesman Anderson Crowe, who works for NB Clark, has complained that officers are persistently targeting workers’ vans as they carry out renovations at Newgate Street bakers Gebhards.

And he said repeated requests to move the vehicles are adding unnecessary time to the job.

Mr Crowe, who is a parish councillor for Widdrington Station and Stobswood, said: “We are supporting the town and working for the people in the town and we get this.

“We are working at Gebhards doing renovations and trying to get our stuff in and out of the van, but the traffic warden is just giving us grief.

“He has told us to park by the library, but we are wanting gear from the van all the time so who is going to carry it all up and down the street? People are trying to run businesses here.

“The traffic wardens can see genuine people. Fair enough if there is a car that has just been parked up, but when you’re genuinely doing work for business people it’s not on.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Single and yellow double lines run along different stretches of Newgate Street in Morpeth.

“Where there is a single yellow line, there is an accompanying sign detailing the restriction. This indicates that no parking is permitted between, ie Monday and Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm. However, loading and unloading is permitted for a maximum period of 30 minutes.

“For a vehicle to be stationary on the yellow line, continuous loading and unloading must be observed and as soon as it is complete, the vehicle must move on.

“Where there is a double yellow line no parking is permitted at any time. There is no accompanying sign unless the restriction is seasonal.”