PLANS to spend £20,000 on an independent consultation over parking proposals in Saltburn have been slammed by politicians, residents and businesses alike. Graeme Hetherington visited the town to gauge the strength of feeling.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council plans to spend the cash to canvass the opinion of the public despite a pre-consultation exercise showing there was overwhelming support to reject the plans.

And the decision has been branded a ‘ridiculous’ waste of time by Tom Blenkinsop, the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, when he launched a scathing attack on the plan to spend much-needed council taxpayers money on the consultation.

He said: “It seems utterly ridiculous that Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council have not just scrapped these proposals when Saltburn is near-unanimously opposed to them, and even more bonkers that they propose wasting £20,000 to conduct ‘market research’ about them.

“It is absolutely clear that the people in this town do not want these proposals to progress. As such, the Council has no mandate to introduce parking restrictions, yet they are wasting £20,000 of taxpayers’ money in a disgraceful attempt to potentially justify the introduction of this scheme.”

And Fiona Carter, who works in Grasers fruit and vegetable shop, said: “I just don’t get the reasoning behind changing the parking in the town, other than for financial reasons. The vast majority of people I have spoken to are opposed to the plans and they could have a devastating effect on local businesses.”

Ian Crockett, of The Cave, said: “We have been in the town for 24 years and invested a lot of time and money in the business and it could all be ruined by the parking changes. Some of our customers, who travel from across the region, have already raised concern about paying parking charges when they visit the town.

“This town is the jewel in the crown of the North-East coast with people having access to culture that isn’t available in other seaside towns and these plans could ruin all of that.”

The pre-consultation exercise carried out by the council received around 2,000 responses with more than 99 per cent of people strongly opposed to the proposals.

East Cleveland Independent councillor Steve Kay said: "Instead of all this prevarication, inflexibility and unjustified expense, why doesn't Councillor Goldswain just capitulate to public opinion and leave the parking situation in Saltburn alone?

“Why waste time and effort on coming to an opinion about which the whole of Redcar and Cleveland is already agreed? Absolutely no one, outside the Council's Labour Group, wants parking charges in Saltburn."

Announcing the plan to go ahead with the consultation process, Cabinet member for Community Protection, Councillor Steve Goldswain, said: “Around 2,000 responses were received as part of the pre-consultation and it is clear from this that further detailed work with stakeholders needs to be carried out.

“At the request of many of those that responded to the consultation a closer look at the impact of the proposals especially in relation to the local economy will be undertaken.”

Residents' parking zones are being suggested for the following streets: Marine Parade, Coral Street, Garnet Street, Back Garnet Street, Ruby Street, Emerald Street, Diamond Street, Pearl Street, Albert Court, Amber Court, Amber Street, Convalescent Street, Grove Side Cottage, Milton Street, Dundas Street East, Dundas Street West, Station Square, Station Street, Bath Street, Exeter Street, Bristol Avenue, Hilda Place, Zetland Terrace, Hazelgrove, Stanhope Street, Cleveland Street and Balmoral Terrace.

Under the proposals, pay-and-display charges would come into effect in part of Marine Parade, while there would be limited waiting in Milton Street, Dundas Street East and Dundas Street West.

Once the research is finished a report will go to the Council’s Cabinet outlining the findings, at this point cabinet will be asked decide if the proposals or any amendments go to statutory consultation.

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