Drive to find a new home for coaches

East Mill layby parking area in Morpeth.
East Mill layby parking area in Morpeth.

COUNCILLORS are calling for progress on providing a designated space for large vehicles in Morpeth sooner rather than later.

Although talks have been held involving Northumberland County Council and Dransfield Properties, at the moment there is no particular area for coaches to stop during the day.

Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee discussed the issue after it received a letter from a motorhome owner saying he would have liked to stop in the town, but could not find anywhere to park his vehicle.

The lay-by at East Mill has been mentioned as a possible location. Until recently, contractors working on the new NHS centre nearby used it to park.

Coun Bob Robertson said: “It is difficult to see a short-term solution for coaches and motorhomes, but hopefully something can be sorted out for the long-term.

“East Mill has been talked about for a few years, although there is an issue in that the turning circle makes it difficult to turn right out of it to get back into town and so the vehicles would have to go up to the Whorral Bank roundabout.

“Another possible site is an area between Lancaster Park and Fairmoor.”

Later in the meeting, the problem of finding enough space for school transport buses and coaches at Morpeth Bus Station between 3.20pm and 3.45pm was on the agenda.

A meeting was held about the issue in the Town Hall last month and the council’s Deputy Clerk Angela Logan told members: “The buses have a specific time slot for a particular stand, but often the driver will have to wait for a few children to make sure they are all on board and this means other vehicles are backed up.

“This is making things even more difficult because there are too many buses and not enough stands during this period anyway.

“Another point mentioned was where do drivers park if they arrive in Morpeth earlier than expected?”

Options have been put forward to give the vehicles somewhere to stop. These include a section of the current Morrisons car park when the store moves to larger premises in Low Stanners and an area of Manchester Street.

Coun Dave Pope said: “Having an area at Morrisons for buses would cause a problem because you can only see it being cordoned off so cars don’t park there illegally and so it would be empty for most of the day.”

Meanwhile, the town council has renewed its call for the parking situation at Morpeth Railway Station to be sorted out as quickly as possible.

A 75-space facility was opened in Coopies Lane in December to ease congestion caused by vehicles parking outside the station. It is operated by the county council and in March its councillors agreed to introduce charges as they will protect spaces for rail users by limiting all-day parking by non-users.

But there is also a smaller car park on site owned by Northern Rail, which is currently free.