A Seaton councillor has attacked the introduction of parking charges in the seaside resort.
Councillor James Black, Leader of Putting Hartlepool First, said residents, businesses and visitors to Seaton Carew would be penalised to help plug a parking budget deficit of Hartlepool Borough Council.
He said: “It is obvious to everyone except the Labour party that the shortfall from Middleton Grange parking is due to the ability to shop elsewhere where the parking is free.
“Seaton, which has no Labour councillors, has been singled out for new parking charges to the detriment of residents, visitors and businesses alike.
“They believe it is an easy cash cow, instead of addressing the real issues. No one in Seaton wants these charges and no one who visits Seaton wants these charges.
“The idea that you can attract more visitors to Seaton by taxing them every time they do so is absurd.”
The charges will be introduced on a trial basis from April 1 to October 31 in the Coronation Drive, Rocket House and Coach Park car parks.
Coun Black added: “No one believes that claims of a seven month trial period are genuine after the council has paid out over £60,000 for ticket machines and I fully expect these charges to be extended once the alleged trial period is over.
“However I will continue to petition the Council until they listen to the residents and businesses of our town.”
The council says the petition and all feedback will be used in a review at the end of the trial and the measures would help to tackle a range of parking issues.
Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, Labour Group Leader and also Council Leader, said the charges are part of the council’s £80m budget which had been shaped after extensive consultation with councillors and the public.
He said: “Councillor Black and his colleague failed to engage with the budget process at all and to make such comments after the process has completed is a failing on their part and the residents they claim to represent.
“Hartlepool Council is now operating with £17m less per year than in 2013/14 and we are dealing with a crisis in Social Care.
“It is prudent upon the Council to seek a balanced budget and there is no robust evidence to substantiate the eleventh hour comments by Councillor Black, which he has had eight months to make prior to budget setting.”