Image demonstrating Council continues traffic improvements in Tynedale

Council continues traffic improvements in Tynedale

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.

In Hexham, the council is pursuing a number of options to secure substantial additional parking in excess of 250 new spaces in the town, but for reasons of commercial confidentiality it would not be appropriate at this time to highlight the work that is taking place behind the scenes.

The removal of HGV parking at Wentworth will be carried out to provide additional car parking capacity and reduce health and safety issues associated with HGV and pedestrian movements in the car park.

Improved direction signs are also being developed and issued to the Town Council for feedback.

In Corbridge, work is progressing well to extend the the long stay car park on the South Side of the bridge. Additional parking bays on Hill Street and Main Street have also been identified, while further consideration is also being given to two other sites.

And in Ponteland, at Merton Way, the expanded car park is now open and new on-street bays are being excavated. It’s been agreed with the Town Council that disc parking will be introduced for both on and off street bays.

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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