VISITORS to Saltburn’s historic Marine Parade are to be charged to park under proposals being brought forward by Redcar and Cleveland Council. The move – arguably the stand-out feature of a three year "car parking strategy" recently approved by the local authority – may put Saltburn in line with other coastal resorts where you are unlikely to find similar prominent spots free to park. But how popular is it likely to be? Stuart Arnold took the air in the spa resort to find out what people think.

“THEY don’t like change in Saltburn and they will fight it,” says Leon Sayers. He’s well placed – excuse the pun – to offer up such an opinion as head frier at The Seaview Restaurant and used to serving up hundreds of fish and chip meals each day to hungry day trippers.

Only its takeaway is currently open, but there’s still sufficient numbers queuing to keep staff busy even on an overcast March day.

Breaking off from his work and moving to the ice-cream kiosk next door to chat to me, Mr Sayers says charging to park on Marine Parade “will deter a lot of people” and also worries about the impact on seasonal workers, particularly the younger ones.

“Saltburn at the moment is quite thriving,” he says. “And if you change things you’d like to hope it is change for the better. But with something like this I can see it causing a lot of chew.”

He says some of the workers employed by Saltburn’s seafront businesses park on the parade in order to free up spaces on the lower foreshore for those that need them, whether at the pier car park or further along at Cat Nab.

“Kids who are coming into work, they won’t be able to afford maybe £6 a day and then the cost of their petrol on top,” he says. “Then you have the people who may be local and just want to come for an hour. They should not have to pay for the pleasure of going for a walk in their local area.”

Back up the bank and tellingly, even on a day like this, the car parking spaces on Marine Parade, which sweeps around the coastline beautifully, are all mostly taken albeit with a few gaps here and there.

Marine Parade in Saltburn

Marine Parade in Saltburn

Drivers and their passengers sit with teas and coffees, eating their lunches, while staring at the gloomy seafront vista through their car window screens.

I knock on several doors, winding my way along the parade, and find opinions split on the potential new charges visitors to this stretch may soon find themselves paying.

“I would be quite happy to pay,” says one man, when I ask if it will bother him. “I’ve only come from down the road and might only visit here every few months.”

Equally content is 79-year-old James Philips, from Middlesbrough, who says he has no issue about the prospect of charges on Marine Parade. “If you come for an hour, you might pay a pound,” he says. “What’s that? I’d have no problems whatsoever. Someone has to pay for the roads, pavements and those sort of things.”

Not everyone, however, is so content. Much like Leon’s fish and chips, Danny and Sandra, from Guisborough, are soon cooking on gas when I speak to them and need no invitation to rip into the council and its plans.

“They want to try and save money at the council themselves,” says Danny. “We’ve had nothing from the council during Covid, other than our bins being emptied,” says Sandra.

Both mention the 3.9 per cent council tax hike the council is imposing, and the costly cyber-attack the local authority suffered last year, which left a £10m hole in its budget and has been a never ending topic at council meetings ever since particularly where finances are concerned.

“Now they want to charge for something that is so beautiful,” says Sandra. “It’s a shame.”

“You will just move the problem along,” adds Danny. “People will just park further along the road where it is free.”

The council has stated its intention  that “any income generated from car parking which goes beyond the costs of delivering the service is reinvested to make improvements”.

It’s yet to say what the charges at Marine Parade could be and in some other locations, such as Newton under Roseberry, near Guisborough, where charges are also set to be levied in a small council-run car park.

In Saltburn the pill for motorists is being sweetened somewhat with extra spaces being provided which it is hoped will help meet demand on busier days.

Redcar and Cleveland Council are to introduce parking charges along Marine Parade in Saltburn and expand Cat Nab car park, pictured

Redcar and Cleveland Council are to introduce parking charges along Marine Parade in Saltburn and expand Cat Nab car park, pictured

The council says there have been requests for many years from the local community, residents and businesses in the town to increase car parking due to overcrowding during peak periods.

A total of 194 car parking spaces are being created by increasing capacity on the eastern side of Marine Parade, extending the Cat Nab car park and creating a new car park at the pumping station, opposite Cat Nab.

Assistant director of environment, Robert Hoof, previously told councillors that “good quality” managed car parking “was normally paid for through charges”.

He said: “The opposite to that is huge amounts of free car parking that isn’t managed and therefore is of low quality and is sometimes misused.

“Last year we did not have sufficient resources to manage car parking properly and had a lot of issues with inappropriate parking and camper van parking.

“We can put in reasonable charges and invest that into a good quality service for everybody’s benefit. We have to bring in charges somewhere.”