I was surprised to read the article about the councils proposed shoppers parking permit ("Town parking charges may leap", 6th January). The only leap that was accurately reported was the leap made by the journalist to go from the fact that as yet no budget has been freed up next year for this scheme to the idea that all or part of the cost would be recouped from increased parking charges. The council reviews it's charges every year and parking is no exception. But that does not mean that the parking permit will be funded from other parking charges. It will be funded from the general budget. If anyone had asked a member of the Lib Dem administration at county hall we would have been happy to clarify this issue.
I join the Hexham Business Forum in welcoming the scheme, which will encourage local residents to shop in times of lower demand for parking by rewarding them with free parking during that time. The Tories Peter Jackson position on this is now laughable. At Castle Morpeth, when he was leader of the council, he made no attempts to change the shoppers permit in Morpeth from the model that is now being rolled out county wide. When offered the chance to push through free parking across the county by Labour in a meeting in July 2011 of the council he refused to support it.
He then said that he wanted everyone to pay the same charge in all NCC car parks, then changed that to exclude Ponteland, Prudhoe, Corbridge and Haltwhistle and just charge people who don't vote Tory in the South East of the county. In the media favours his so called "peoples pass", which he has never presented the full details of to Northumberland County Council. At the recent cross party parking working group that we have established at County Hall he voted to support the shoppers permit proposal that went before executive on Monday and was approved. It seems that on this issue his policy changes each time the wind changes direction. Our scheme is about congestion and rewarding hard up Northumberland residents, whilst still ensuring people from outside the county pay their fair share for maintaining the car parks. I hope people will recognise that even iun hard times, the council is strecthing every muscle to help them.
Cllr Neil Bradbury