Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Village faces loss of business if parking charges brought in

Whickham village centre in Gateshead could be hit by a loss of business if plans to introduce parking charges are not watered down further.

The claim was made by local Liberal Democrat councillors who surveyed people in the village centre about the plans by Gateshead Council to bring in charges to parking behind the Library and Gibside Hotel.

The survey of shoppers was carried out earlier in April. People were asked about the plans to bring in a £1 a day long stay charge and 20p an hour short stay.

The charges were first proposed by Gateshead Council two years ago, but after an outcry by residents and a campaign by local Liberal Democrat Councillors, their introduction was delayed. This was to allow for further consultation.

“The Council has come back with a revised plan to allow the first 20 minutes to be free,” said Cllr Peter Craig.

“However, we feel this is still insufficient. We decided therefore to ask current users of the car park about their views. We found that nearly half the people questioned would be less likely to use the car park if the charges are introduced.

“Two out of three believe the first 20 minutes being free was too short. Most suggested the first hour should be free instead. As councillors for the area, we feel this is a reasonable compromise.

“Without a longer free period, there are concerns that shops, already hit by the recession, will see a further loss of business. Many will go instead to the Metrocentre, just down the bank from Whickham, where parking is free.

“We are continuing to consult residents and will then take up the findings with the Council.”

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