DON'T drive motorists away from Barnard Castle.

That's the plea of TV antiques expert David Harper, who became one of the first to fall foul of a car parking clampdown in the town.

Mr Harper, whose business is based on The Bank, was among four people to receive parking tickets at the start of the campaign.

Police have launched the operation after receiving a number of complaints about poor parking on the historic cobbles in Horse Market and Market Place, Newgate and The Bank.

Mr Harper said he got his ticket while parked on a single yellow line. He had unloaded some antiques and was packing boxes to put into the boot.

“I don't really have anywhere for loading and unloading and the car does not have any branding on it,” said Mr Harper.

Despite being caught out in the campaign, he concedes the parking situation in Barnard Castle “needs sorting out.”

He added: “I don't know how – but I think the new car park in Newgate is excellent and it would be good to promote that.

“We really need to be on it – there are all these big out-of-town developments with huge free parking facilities and they are taking a lot of business.

“We need to make it easier for the motorists to come and spend money in Barnard Castle.

“At the end of the day, it would be impossible for the shops to survive in Barnard Castle on just local custom.

“We sell to people from all over the country – they don't need to be going home with a ticket.”

The current clampdown on poor parking in Barnard Castle is expected to last a couple of weeks.

Responsibility for enforcing car parking regulations in Barnard Castle is due to transfer from the police to the local authority in April.

Mr Harper, who has now paid the £30 fixed penalty parking notice, added: “What is required is a little bit of give and take.”

* Mr Harper will be back on TV in the next couple of weeks as part of the new BBC series of Antiques Road Trip, with fellow expert Catherine Southon.

He is then due to start filming for another Antiques Road Trip and also a new series of Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.