Image demonstrating Council continues parking improvements in Berwick

Council continues parking improvements in Berwick

Hundreds of new parking spaces are being created across Northumberland as the council continues its multi-million pound traffic improvements.

The county council has allocated £10m to fund parking improvements throughout Northumberland, producing detailed parking studies and action plans for our market towns in conjunction with town and parish councils.

The improvement programme is well underway, expanding and refurbishing existing car parks and creating new ones in many towns and villages.

The latest plans recommended for funding include schemes to provide a further 120 spaces in Berwick, at the railway station and at West End, Tweedmouth.

Also in Berwick, the former coach park in Chapel Street is now converted to short stay car park with additional on-street parking and EV point.

At Castlegate, planning approval has been secured for temporary use of the extension area for a further three years. Costings are being sought for the installation or barriers to prevent use during the winter period. Consideration is also being given to identify the most appropriate option for repairing the surface to make it safer and more hardwearing.

Work is also about to start on the development of a scheme for the permanent use of Castlegate.

Discussions are ongoing to see whether the library car park being could be left open at weekends to enable access for a limited number of residents/visitors. There are currently 13 bays plus 2 disabled bays, with approximately 10 required for staff at weekends.  If public use can be facilitated at weekends then suitable signage will be provided at the entrance.

Also in the town,discussions will continue with Advance Northumberland to see if they are able to open up their development site at the GWA Building on Walkergate for informal long stay parking by their tenants/visitors to help reduce pressure on the Council’s town centre long stay car parks.

Coach drop-off and short stay bays are also being regularly used and signage to the long stay parking bay at the Swan Centre has been put in place. Further promotion of the coach parking facilities being undertaken with tour operators to encourage visits to Berwick.

To help fund these raft of improvements consultation is set  to take place on proposals to reintroduce charges at a number of non town centre council-owned car parks.

The move would bring the council in line with parking charges at other tourism destinations and railway car parks in the region and save the authority over £400,000 a year, as it looks to address the need to make £27 million in revenue savings over the next three years.

It is proposed that charges are increased at six out of the seven car parks where charging is already in place.

Plans are also being put forward to introduce parking charges at seven coastal tourist car parks, four railway station car parks and at Tyne Riverside Country Park. Many of these car parks would see charges of just £3 a day being introduced.

Consultation will also be carried out on proposals to increase the cost of an annual parking pass from £130 year to £225 (or just over 60 pence a day). These passes are often used by commuters and the new rate would still represent good value for money compared to a daily parking rate of £3  - which would equate to almost £700.

The recently introduced country parks annual pass, which costs £35, will currently be unaffected by these proposals.

By keeping the first hour free at the more urban coastal car parks, it would also ensure that local residents who regularly visit the sites for short walks would not be significantly affected by the proposals.

If the consultation is approved by Cabinet, detailed proposals will be put forward to residents, stakeholders and key partners in the coming weeks.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet member for Environment and 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 frontline 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.”

If ultimately agreed, the new charges would be introduced by summer 2019.
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