Sunday, 13 January 2013

Forms are available to sign in Boots, Harrison newsagents, Castlegate, the Ace Convenience Store on Bridge Street and the front office of ‘The Advertiser’.

Berwick Advertiser
Parking petition receives the backing of Chamber of Trade
Published on Saturday 12 January 2013 13:55
BERWICK’S Chamber of Trade has become the first major Chamber of Trade in the county to back a petition for fair parking charges.
The petition which closes on February 26 is meant to further the debate on car parking charges across Northumberland.After the petition closes, a public meeting of the Northumberland County Council’s Petitions Committee will be held to discuss the findings.
Berwick Chamber of Trade chair John Haswell said: “After printing out the petition form today, I have personally collected just over 280 names and signatures in one afternoon. It didn’t take long and it wasn’t hard to do. Berwick’s residents are more than ready to put their name to this petition as they feel this town has been milked to the hilt and it’s about time it stopped.
“We have made the petition available through the local traders and shops of the town so don’t hold back, get in and sign it.”

Forms are available to sign in Boots, Harrison newsagents, Castlegate, the Ace Convenience Store on Bridge Street and the front office of ‘The Advertiser’.
Labour councillors hope the public campaign and renewed discussion of what they call “a parking stealth tax” will send a strong message to the Liberal Democrat administration as it fine tunes this year’s budget.

Currently, visitors to Morpeth, Berwick, Alnwick and Hexham have to pay parking charges, while areas like Blyth, Cramlington and Ashington pay nothing.
This raises nearly £5m per year in income from charges and fines, according to Lib Dem Coun Andrew Tebbutt, executive member for corporate resources. However, Labour dispute this figure, putting the income generated at nearer to £1.95m.

Labour also dispute Coun Tebbutt’s claim that “charges are needed to deal with congestion”.
Reacting to the petition, Coun Tebbutt said: “Both Labour and Tory promises to deliver ‘free parking’ throughout Northumberland are basically a con trick. Firstly it is not free: Council Tax payers, including non-car users, will subsidise car parking to around £4.5m. To find that money they will have to cut funds from other services. Claims that it can be saved by cutting ‘back office’ costs are a fallacy – there is no ‘fat’ left in Northumberland County Council, so it will come from front line services.

“Car park charges are primarily about traffic management and easing congestion. Charges or no charges, car parking limits, on and off street, will have to be enforced, which needs staff.
“The Council has already had to save £117m since April 2009; it will have to save up to £24m in 2013/14 and latest Government predictions suggest 2014/15 and beyond will be even tougher.” He defended the administration’s changes to parking: “We reduced charges in Berwick, introducing the Shoppers Permit (£15.00 for two years) and the Annual Permit. Even with the recent increase in cost, at £130 per annum, that represents just £2.50 a week.”

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