Plans to introduce a shoppers parking permit which would include parts of Berwick have been approved by Northumberland County Council.
It will allow permit holders to park in the Castlegate, Parade and Quayside car parks between 9am-11am and 3pm-6pm from Monday to Saturday as well as Sundays and bank holidays.
The scheme has been operating successfully in Morpeth for several years and the council’s car parking strategy working group believes its extension across the whole county will have sufficient benefits to outweigh the estimated loss of £200,000 per year in parking income.
The proposal was approved by the executive on Monday even though officers had warned that no funds have been earmarked to implement the plan.
The scheme involves residents buying a £15 permit, valid for two years, which would allow them to park in specified car parks in Berwick, Alnwick, Morpeth and Hexham.
In a report to the executive, parking manager Lynne Ryan revealed the proposal would result in an estimated loss of £200,000 parking income along with further costs to administer the scheme.
She warned: “No funding source has been identified by the car parking strategy working group to enable the proposal to be implemented and the proposal cannot be delivered within the existing budget provision.”
It has led to suggestions that parking fees could be increased across the county to help pay for it. However, the Conservative group maintain that the current two-tier charging regime which sees parking remain free in the south-east of the county needs to be addressed.
Peter Jackson, Conservative group leader, said: “The hours involved in the shoppers’ permit mean it is not very practical for most people and it still doesn’t address the unfairness of why some towns have parking charges while others don’t.
“The Lib Dems are failing to challenge the basic inequality whereby Berwick residents pay to park, when parking is free elsewhere in the county. It cannot be right that Berwick residents, who already pay the highest charges in the county, will be forced to pay even more.”