Calls for festive free parking vetoed by council
CALLS for Northumberland County Council to provide free parking for local residents in the week before Christmas have been rejected after warnings that it could have dire consequences for Berwick which relies so heavily on trade from north of the border.
Conservative councillor Gordon Castle had requested the relaxation of parking charges to encourage Northumberland residents to stock up on last minute Christmas presents in their market towns.
However, the move was blocked by Lib Dem members at the council’s north area committee meeting last week.
Berwick resident Tom Forrester, a Conservative campaigner, said: “Two years ago the county council made the much appreciated move of suspending parking charges in town during the week before Christmas. We were asking them to do the same again in order to put money back into local pockets and reinvigorate local businesses in the run up to Christmas.
“It is very disappointing that this request has been turned down. With the internet and out of town shopping centres, there is so much competition now for where people do their Christmas shopping. It is madness to handicap our market towns by forcing people to pay for the privilege of shopping locally.”
Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland Conservatives, added: “Christmas is a very important time of year for business in Berwick and all our market towns. Free parking will encourage people to do their Christmas shopping locally.”
But Coun Dougie Watkin, Lib Dem member for Norham and Islandshire, believed such a move would have severe implications for Berwick.
He said: “Half of the people who work in Berwick live in Scotland, half of the businesses in Berwick are owned by people living in Scotland and most of the trade in the town comes from Scotland.
“If the Conservatives have their way, what sort of message would Northumberland be sending to half of the people who travel into Berwick every day for work? The Conservative plan is even more ridiculous in the context of Scotland’s referendum on the breakup of the United Kingdom.
I will give the Conservatives this, however – their plan would certainly work wonders for traffic management in Berwick, as half the people working in, visiting and shopping in the town would see the unfairness and head elsewhere.”
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Weather for Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: South west
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: South