Traders slam draft proposals to introduce on-street parking charges (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Cockerton traders fear draft proposals for on-street parking charges will 'kill the village'
TRADERS have slammed Darlington Council’s proposal to introduce on-street pay and display parking on Cockerton Green claiming it will “kill the village”.
The proposal appears in the council’s draft parking strategy which is the authority’s vision on how parking arrangements could change in the borough from next year up to 2026.
The strategy is currently under consultation and independent shopkeepers along Cockerton Green fear that plans to charge motorists for on-street parking could have a negative impact on their businesses and the vibrancy of the village.
Yvonne Wennington, who has run The Coffee Pot café on Cockerton Green for nine-years, said: “The village is dying a death as it is.
“It’s a number of little things like knocking down the toilets, reducing the library’s opening hours, the recent roadworks and so on that all add up to putting people off from visiting Cockerton.
“Charging people for parking will just be another thing to add to that list and it will kill the village.
“The council is supposed to be helping small businesses, not doing things that make it harder for us to survive.”
Dougie Wheeler of Wheeler’s Hardware described the idea as “ridiculous”.
He added: “A lot of people come here instead of town because they can’t get parked in town or don’t want to pay.
“If they are going to have to pay to park in Cockerton then they may as well just go to town, which doesn’t help us at all.”
David Haw, who has run Cockerton Pets for 14-years, added: “People are not going to want to pay a pound just to pop in and buy a bag of dog food or a bag of nails from next door are they?
“It will affect trade because nobody wants to pay; the bottom line is that everybody’s skint.”
The council estimates that it will cost £40,000 to conduct a feasibility study into introducing the on-street parking charges but council leader Bill Dixon stressed that no decisions had yet been made.
He said: “There are a range of ideas and it is really up to people to road test them during the consultation.
“We are not in the business of disadvantaging businesses but there are arguments for and against increasing places for cars to park in Cockerton by introducing charges, I know I have had trouble myself when I have tried to park there.
“It is important to consult and have a debate and in order to do that we have to put a framework out there rather than simply saying ‘we have a parking strategy but we are not going to tell you what it is’.”
Consultation sessions are being held at the Dolphin Centre on September 6 from 9.30am to noon and September 11 from 5pm to 7pm, and also in the town centre on September 14 from 9.30am to noon.
An online form can also be filled in at darlington.gov.uk/parkingconsultation
The consultation period closes on September 30.
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