Businesses in Seaton Carew have hit out at council chiefs for deciding to introduce parking charges for the first time.
Users of Seaton’s three car parks will be charged £1 for two hours from next year as the cash-strapped authority looks to find savings.
The charges are due to apply between April and October at the Rocket House and coach park car parks, off The Front, and Newburn Bridge car park on Coronation Drive.
It comes as Hartlepool Borough Council is developing a masterplan to regenerate the resort.
But businesses have described the decision as “disgusting” and Seaton’s three ward councillors say they were given no prior knowledge of the plans.
Jackie O’Beirne, proprietor of Gladys’ Vintage Tea Room, on The Front, said: “I think it will have a massive impact. A lot of the businesses are really unhappy about it.
“It is hard enough as it is without introducing things like this.”
Nicola Darley, manager of Fish Face fish n’ chip restaurant, said: “It’s disgusting. Free parking brings tourism to Seaton and this will put people off.”
Seaton councillor Tom Hind said: “Ukip in Hartlepool oppose any charges in that respect.
“If we are going to move forward as a tourist attraction for Hartlepool then all car parks in Seaton should be at all costs free of charge.”
Coun James Black fears visitors will park in residential areas instead. He said: “Sadly, we weren’t made aware of the report going to the committee. There is so many unanswered questions that should have been before something like this is brought in.”
Councillor Marjorie James, chair of Hartlepool council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee, which agreed the charges, said: “The maintenance of car parks and all the issues at Seaton around car parking have to be funded.
“Therefore, I think it’s right we introduce a minimum charge and a pound for two hours is minimal.”
On street parking on The Front will continue to be free for 30 minutes.
Denise Ogden, director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “The department has a car parking deficit of £120,000 which we have to address this year.”
Officers are due to report back later about parking charges for over two hours and arrangements for the seafront from Station Lane to Newburn Bridge.