Liberal Democrat Councillors in Whickham, Gateshead, have launched a petition against revised plans for parking charges in the village.
Plans to introduce charges in the car parks in the centre of the village were first announced three years ago. An angry outcry by residents, businesses and Whickham’s nine Lib Dem Councillors persuaded Gateshead Council’s cabinet to suspend the plans.
The time since has been used to put together revised proposals which allow for the first 20 minutes in the short stay car park behind the Library to be free. After that, a charge of 20p an hour will apply.
The car park behind the Gibside Hotel will be used for long stay with a charge of £1 a day.
Liberal Democrat Councillors set up a street stall in Whickham on Saturday 23rd May to collect signatures and copies of the petition were also places in local shops and businesses. They were also joined by Neil Bradbury, Parliamentary candidate for Blaydon, which includes Whickham.
“Whilst the free 20 minutes is a concession, it does not go far enough,” said Councillor Peter Craig. “It is too short a time and people will barely be out of their cars before they have to pay the charge.
“There are serious concerns about the impact of the recession on local businesses,” said Neil Bradbury. “Whickham has to compete with the Metrocentre where parking is free.
“There should be no charges introduced during the recession and if the Council does introduce a charge at a later date, it should at least make the first hour free.
“That will give the small shops in Whickham, many of which are locally owned, a fighting chance to compete with the Metrocentre.”