Parking unfairness in Northumberland

The cost of parking is always a vexed issue. None of us want to pay when we don't have to, and will invariably find free on-street parking, rather than pay for a car park. High fees push people away from smaller towns and cities, as we have seen in Salisbury, however this story from Northumberland is amazing in its unfairness.

Northumberland can be split in two, with a concentrated population in the urban south east, and the rest mainly made up of rural areas, with various market towns such as Alnwick and Morpeth. Transport links in the south east of the county are good, with frequent buses servicing the communities. It is a different tale further north, where bus services are infrequent to say the least and for people living and working there, owning a car is almost essential.

Northumberland County Council (a unitary authority since 2009) has decided in its wisdom to offer free parking to residents in the highly populated areas, and charge those who live further north. (Further information on this can be found here) This has a negative effect on businesses who are losing trade as a result. A campaign has been launched by the Northumberland Gazette which has the full backing of local people who simply want fairness. The campaign has been going well and has already seen a U-turn by the council who had originally planned to push this matter through using an executive order.

On 27 July, the full council will debate this issue. Even councillors who currently represent wards where there aren't parking charges can see how unjust this is. Cllr Ian Swithenbank, a member for Cramlington East said to have parking free for some and not for others is unsustainable. He also criticised the executive saying, "It smacks of empire building and it smacks of taxation."

If you live in Northumberland, please contact Cllr Isabel Hunter who is the executive member for infrastructure and environment. It is wrong those who rely most on their cars should have to pay to subsidise free parking for others on the county. It is difficult enough running a business in these economic times, without having your council actively working against you. This campaign is not asking for taxpayers to subsidise free parking in North Northumberland. It is asking for fairness. Northumberland County Council needs to listen to their concerns, and act.

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