‘Wrong time’ for permit plan

Cottingwood Lane, Morpeth
Cottingwood Lane, Morpeth

A PROPOSED residents’ parking scheme should be shelved to assess the impact of a no-charge policy, councillors say.

Residents in Cottingwood Lane in Morpeth have long called for action to address nuisance parking in their street.

There have been numerous complaints about drivers blocking roads and pavements to avoid paying the charges in town centre car parks.

And now a permit scheme has been proposed by Northumberland County Council to make parking in the street residents-only.

But with free parking set to be introduced across the town in April, householders say such a scheme may be unnecessary.

Morpeth town councillor and Cottingwood Lane resident Les Cassie said: “A lot of people park in Cottingwood Lane to avoid the town centre car parks. The reason people do that is because of car parking charges, and they are very clear that that is why they do it. When there weren’t enough car parks in Morpeth some people argued that they parked there because there was nowhere else to park, but I don’t think anyone can argue that is the case at the moment. There are car parking spaces in Morpeth, but people still park in Cottingwood Lane.

“However, I think it is exactly the wrong time to be trying to introduce a residents’ scheme when car parking charges are being removed in April and the whole balance of where people choose to park legally or illegally is going to change.

“My personal view is that the problem is going to become less.”

He added: “Clearly, a year ago everybody thought the parking was dreadful, and had been for the last 20 years, and something had to be done about it.

“I do think the situation is going to change a lot and people, particularly further up the street, are saying why should they pay for a permit each year to park outside their house?”

Coun Cassie said one part of the suggested scheme — painting yellow lines at the entrance to the street — would be welcome to stop road and pavement blockages.

“There is a second major problem in Cottingwood Lane and that is at the entrance with Howard Road. Quite often people park there, sometimes in the road and sometimes half on the pavement. That stops anybody in a wheelchair or with a baby buggy getting past on the pavement,” he said.

“One element of the proposal is to put yellow lines from the junction with Howard Road up to the entrance to the council offices. I would like to make sure that is put in.”

Consultation is being carried out on two options for a permit scheme, one with marked bays and one without.

Members of Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee said they were concerned that turning down the scheme now could make it difficult to introduce if it was needed in the future.

Coun Nic Best said: “My concern is that if we turn this down now it won’t come back again, or at least not come back for quite a long time.

“There is going to be over the next five years increasing traffic and if Morpeth is promoted and more people are coming into the town there will be a demand for parking control.

“If we don’t grasp this opportunity we might miss the boat altogether.”

And Coun David Clark said: “Everyone seems to suggest there is a big problem up there. You are going to run the risk of missing the opportunity to deal with car parking once and for all.”

However, Coun Bob Robertson suggested that the committee should approach the county council and ask for the scheme to be deferred.

“I can understand where people are coming from in wanting to defer this until the impact of the no charge parking can be seen. I wonder if we can explore the possibility of not withdrawing it, but stalling it,” he said.

Members agreed unanimously. They will also request that yellow lines be painted at the street entrance and the restrictions enforced.