Free parking offered by council to entice Christmas shoppers
AN early Christmas present for drivers is on the way from an alliance of Labour and Tory councillors in Northumberland in the form of a week’s free parking in market towns.
Members voted 23 to 22 to support Conservative leader Coun Peter Jackson’s motion to reinstate the tradition at Alnwick and Berwick, and extend it to Morpeth, Hexham and Corbridge.
The Liberal Democrat administration condemned the move as a stunt and predicted it would cause congestion in town centres across the county.
Coun Andrew Tebbutt, executive member for corporate services, said: “I am very disappointed with the attitude Labour have shown today. They had initially planned to vote against this motion for sound reasons but have completely contradicted themselves and decided to back the Conservatives’ ridiculous plan because it is more politically expedient.
“Now that the council has passed this policy, we will have to find £40,000 from somewhere within our budget to fund it. I’d be interested to know what Labour and the Conservatives would like to cut to pay for this.”
Labour’s Coun Ian Swithenbank said half the county’s population had free parking all year and that was unfair to the rural areas. He wanted county-wide free parking. In hard times it would help drivers and businesses alike.
Coun Peter Jackson, Conservatives leader, said: “For years, shops in some of our market towns have struggled against an unfair parking regime. So if we want a strong and sustainable local retail economy, our council should take more responsibility to ease trading difficulties.”
He said there was evidence charging for parking drove shoppers away and pointed out the Mary Portas project had placed great weight on free parking.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North