Thoughts wanted on town centre parking

Concerns about the shortage of car parking spaces in Berwick town centre will be the subject of a special meeting next month.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 21 April, 2016, 08:32
Berwick Railway Station Car Park

It will be the main agenda item at Berwick’s annual town meeting in the Guildhall on May 25.

The issue was put to town councillors on Monday night by town clerk Wendy Pattison who said she had been made aware of problems finding spaces in long-stay car parks such as the Quayside.

There are similar issues at The Parade, Coxon’s Lane and Castlegate where workers are taking advantage of free parking introduced in 2014.

There was concern that visitors to the town are being limited to short-stay options, especially in the summer, thus impacting on the local economy.

In addition, short stay spaces on Marygate are currently being reviewed by Northumberland County Council after a year-long trial that was widely criticised.

The clerk suggested that the reintroduction of fees in long-stay car parks might persuade workers to leave their cars elsewhere, perhaps on the south side of the river in Tweedmouth.

But Coun Catherine Seymour said: “Free parking has been well received in Berwick and I would like to see it continue. I think residents are paying enough in terms of the precept.”

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She felt that local traders, highways experts and residents should be invited to have their say on the matter.

Coun Eric Goodyer hoped the proposed increase in car parking at the railway station would ease congestion in other town centre car parks.

He said: “There are plans for 90 new spaces at the station. Getting those should give us a bit of relief.

“The reality is that, at the moment, people are avoiding paying a £3.50 fee at the station and parking in the long-stay areas of the town for free.”

Free parking in Berwick was introduced in county council-run car parks – with the exception of the railway station – and in on-street parking bays after an election pledge made by the Labour administration to offer to all town and parish councils the chance to remove parking charges.

At the station, the county council has been working with Virgin Trains on a bid to the Department for Transport for funding towards a project to provide further parking, and match funding has been allocated in its Local Transport Plan programme.

The land being looked at is on the north side of the platform and currently used as a maintenance compound for Network Rail operations, so the council is also in discussion with them about a possible alternative location for this.