AN MP has continued to criticise Stockton Borough Council’s parking policy despite the authority agreeing to his demands to provide new car parking spaces for a busy town.
James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South, welcomed the council’s announcement of two new long-stay car parks with a total of 80 spaces in Yarm.
But the MP reiterated that he is still against the authority’s plan to press ahead with pay and display on Yarm High Street after Easter.
Concerns have been raised that pay and display could badly affect trade. There has been a two-year campaign against the plan, including a 1,300 signature petition and a failed Judicial Review paid for by Yarm Town Council.
But since then Stockton council has made concessions on pricing and the times pay and display will be active. Now the authority has submitted planning applications for two new long-stay car parks, each with about 40 spaces.
The proposed car parks are off Silver Street, behind Barclays Bank’s Yarm High Street branch and behind the Blue Bell pub on the Egglescliffe side of Yarm Bridge.
Mr Wharton claimed victory on the latest concession. He said: “Stockton council originally wanted to introduce charges with no real consultation and no plans for long stay parking provision.
"We have worked hard and campaigned over two years now to secure a number of compromises and one of the most important was the agreement to secure long stay parking options. It would still be better if no parking charges were planned at all.”
Louise Baldock, Labour candidate for the Stockton South constituency, went further than Mr Wharton, seeking to delay the introduction of pay and display. She said: “I urge the council to suspend plans to introduce these (pay and display) measures until after these car parks have been introduced and an assessment has taken place."
Coun Mike Smith, Labour, Stockton council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, said: “We promised to deliver long-stay parking options for Yarm and we are now making good on that promise.
“Yarm is a busy, thriving town with visitors throughout the year and we want it to remain so.”
Ukip councillor for Yarm, Mark Chatburn, said: "Whilst today's announcement is most welcome in many ways, it remains to be seen if the new car parks will mitigate for the inevitable displacement of traffic we will see when pay and display is introduced to Yarm High Street."