THE transport secretary Chris Grayling has said traffic and parking problems in a town could be fixed “on a national level” in order to ease congestion.

Yarm, near Stockton, has been plagued with growing traffic concerns, and a lack of car parking during peak times over several years.

On Thursday, Mr Grayling was in Yarm, along with parliamentary candidate Matt Vickers, and the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen.

At peak time, Mr Grayling was shown the extent of the problem, mainly caused from people slowing down to look for parking spaces on the High Street.

In Yarm, Mr Grayling said: “It isn’t always about the big projects, sometimes it’s the smaller things that make a difference and so here we are talking about the need to improve the parking situation in the centre, and the fact that some of the solutions lie with network rail.”

Mr Grayling remained hopeful that Network Rail could “unlock” land under the town’s viaduct in an effort to free up space for additional parking.

He said: “There are things they could do to help, and I’m very happy to see if we can facilitate that.”

When asked about the progress of that plan to free up space, Mr Grayling said: “I think the general consensus of the meeting we’ve had is that one of the biggest challenges is to make sure there’s enough parking so that the centre doesn’t congeal with people looking to park. There’s more availability and that’s what we’re looking at ‘can we help unlock some of the potential sites’ in and around Yarm, certainly some of that is local, but there are things that we could be able to do on a national level through network rails ownership of the railway viaduct and the land underneath it.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Parliamentary candidate, Matt Vickers with Chris Grayling

Mayor Ben Houchen said the concern’s raised over Yarm’s traffic and parking problem had already led to the closure of some local businesses.

He said: “We just want to raise the profile of some of the traffic problems we’ve got on Yarm High Street, something that seen a problem for many years now. The impact that has on local businesses, we’ve seen local businesses close because of the traffic management problems in Yarm.

"There is a solution on the table, it does require some help by Chris Grayling, as transport secretary of state, to get permission from network rail to give access to a piece of land, that could create quite a large car park that relives quite a lot of pressure.”