Council chiefs have dismissed rumours that a proposed short stay parking trial on Berwick’s main shopping street has been shelved.
It had been rumoured that the costs of the Marygate scheme, coupled with the introduction of free parking elsewhere in the town centre, had resulted in the plan being put out to grass.
However, Northumberland County Council has revealed that preparations for the work are still being made.
A council spokesman said: “The decision to approve a proposal for experimental restoration of short term parking for Marygate was approved in March of this year.
“Notices advertising of our intentions will be posted in due course to keep those affected up to date.”
Although it is early days, free parking appears to be doing what was intended by encouraging drivers back into Berwick town centre rather than out-of-town retail parks and rival shopping destinatons.
A council spokesman said: “Early indications are that the free parking has been very well received by the majority in Berwick and our parking services staff have never seen the car parks so busy.”
John Haswell, chairman of Berwick Chamber of Trade, said: “It’s early days but everything looks positive so far and the town has been quite busy.”
The new regulations, which came into effect on April 1, could also be helping to free up space in the town’s railway station car park where parking charges remain in place.
Enforcement officers reported a number of parking spaces being available last Thursday which had rarely been the case previously. The trend continued this week, although this may in part be due to it being the school half-tern holidays.
The council has also dismissed talk that there is a shortage of parking discs - and revealed that there will be a £1 charge for them from May 1.
“There is definitely no shortage of discs in Berwick,” said the council spokesman.
“We have bought 150,000 parking discs for free distribution and we think this will cover more than 90% of the people who need them.
“But we are introducing a £1 costs after May 1, in order to help cover our costs.”
However, the claim was disputed by Mr Haswell who revealed he had taken calls from several outlets, including the Maltings theatre and Berwick’s tourist information centre, to say they were running low on their stock.
The county council’s parking services staff have been visiting Berwick over the last few weeks to distribute the new parking discs and talk to local people.
They will be in the town again on Friday, April 11 from 10am – 3pm. They are being supported by volunteers from Berwick Town Council and Chamber of Trade, who are helping to explain the new arrangements.
Parking discs have been placed in nearly 30 town centre outlets.
People can also buy the Northumberland Pay and Display permit to use in all car parks that have retained parking charges– via the council website www.northumberland.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=1518