Council hopeful of finding a coach parking solution

Coach drop off/pick up point on Walkergate

Coach drop off/pick up point on Walkergate

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Plans to introduce a dedicated coach parking facility in Berwick town centre in time for the 2014 tourist season are in the pipeline.

Northumberland County Council has given assurances that it is still working on a proposal for the Chapel Street area.

Councillor Ian Swithenbank, portfolio holder for streetcare and the environment, said: “Officers are currently negotiating with the landowner and are still hopeful of getting the new facility in place in this financial year.

“We’ve already sorted out a drop-off point but we need somewhere for the coaches to park and we’re hoping to be able to provide that if these negotiations are successful.”

There have been repeated calls for a proper coach parking facility within the town walls for a number of years.

It is top of Berwick Town Council’s transport wishlist and Berwick Chamber of Trade is among those which believes an increase in coach parties would provide traders with a much-needed economic boost.

However, chairman John Haswell has been growing increasingly concerned at the lack of action from the council as the tourist season nears.

“We’d like to see things hurried up a little,” he said. “We haven’t heard anything about the coach parking proposals for several months and it’s becoming a concern.”

It was back in 2011 that the county council first mooted a £200,000 redevelopment of the Chapel Street car park and neighbouring former Swans bus depot as a potential option.

Since then, drop off bays have been created on Walkergate but there is still nowhere within the town walls for coach drivers to park up.

While some drivers park on edge of town trading estates, there is a widespread feeling that many coach companies choose instead to bypass Berwick altogether.

There has also been much debate about the most suitable location. Although Chapel Street now appears to be the frontrunner, some feel it is too narrow to accommodate large coaches and that its car park should be retained. Other suggestions have included the Parade, Wallace Green and the former Kwik Save supermarket site.

Mr Haswell has taken steps to attract coach companies by producing 1,200 leaflets promoting Berwick, its attractions and its key events in 2014.

“They will be handed to coach companies all over the country,” he said. “We hope it will generate a lot of interest in Berwick.”

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