Survey seeks answer to parking problems
A survey is under way as part of an effort to address the chronic shortage of parking spaces in parts of Berwick.
A follow-up survey will be carried out at the peak of the tourist season, after which Northumberland County Council will look at the recommendations.
A council spokesman said: “We have commissioned Aecom to undertake a study of the current car parking provision in Berwick and make recommendations for future improvements.
“The study area includes all of the town centre up to and including the station and Castle Terrace area, and Tweedmouth between the river and A1167.
“The study aims to establish the existing parking provision and demand, including all existing off-street car parks (public and private) as well as on-street parking.
“Two surveys will be conducted – now and July – so as to assess the impact of tourism, and local businesses will also be consulted.
“When looking at recommendations for the future we will be considering the following: Off-street parking in terms of numbers and locations; on-street parking restrictions and bay locations; permitted stay durations in both off-street and on-street locations; the number and locations of disabled parking, electric vehicle charging bays, cycle parking and coach parking; walking routes and directional signing; the future operation and management of the railway station car parks, both existing and proposed potential park-and-ride sites on the Tweedmouth side of the river.”
Businesses, shoppers and residents have grown increasingly frustrated at the parking problem in recent months.
The issue is particularly acute in The Parade and Coxon’s Lane areas where long-stay spaces are generally filled by 9am.
Stephen Scott, secretary of Berwick Chamber of Trade, said: “The feedback we are getting is that parking congestion has increased in that part of town since the move of Greaves West and Ayre (GWA), which is hardly surprising.
“However, visitor numbers in the town are still relatively low, so as the numbers of visitors increase, the impact will be greater and the effect on the local businesses is likely to be very significant.
“Given we have a problem now and increasing car parking capacity takes a while to plan and secure funding, the Chamber of Trade calls for the local authorities to consider some short-term options. We acknowledge that with any short-term measure there will be winners and losers but we need decisive action now before the peak visitor season is upon us. Procrastinating or doing nothing will be the worst thing that could happen.”
The Chamber of Trade supports the results of its own survey which calls for increased parking capacity with the preferred option being to extend the Castlegate Car Park so that the current grassed area is available for parking all year round.
Mr Scott said: “Another interesting point is the situation in the Quayside Car Park now GWA have vacated their old offices in that part of town, you would expect that spare capacity has increased, but in reality this hasn’t happened. So in effect, locals and visitors have already started to change their parking habits and the spare capacity on the Quayside has been swallowed up almost immediately. This just reinforces the view that there is insufficient parking capacity in the town overall.
“The town council have the powers to change parking policies and we call for them to consider the options available to them to provide a short term solution whilst working with Northumberland County Council on a longer term answer to the capacity issues.”