Opponents of new parking charges in Seaton Carew have welcomed changes to the scheme – but say they do not go far enough.
A special meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee was held to agree the changes based on feedback from residents and businesses affected.
It is claimed some businesses have seen their takings hit by 25% since the introduction of the charges earlier this month.
Amendments include extending free roadside parking on The Front, providing more space for business permit holders, and making parking free after 6pm following appeals from businesses that rely on night time trade.
But critics say the charges are having an impact on visitor numbers.
Committee member Councillor George Springer said: “I have been hearing frequently from people in business they have lost 25% business over this very short period this has been in. They are losing while the council is gaining.”
Two more consultation events in Seaton are planned before the end of October.
Seaton councillor Paul Thompson said: “Ever since the charges have been discussed it has been visible that it has had an impact on Seaton.”
He referred to pictures posted by Glady’s Vintage Tea Room on social media on Sunday showing it empty, and added fewer cars are using Newburn Bridge car park.
Chair of the committee Coun Marjorie James said: “We are trying to respond to the needs that have been expressed. The car park charges are necessary if the council is going to maintain the car parks in Seaton.
“We have listened to what businesses have said and have extended (on street disc parking) to an hour.”
The pay and display hours are to be changed from 8am-8pm to 9am-6pm.
Free public parking with a disc at Seaton Park is to be changed from one hour to two hours.
Areas of The Front and The Cliff that are currently joint resident permit and pay and display will be made resident parking only.
Seaton resident Steve Gooderham, who organised a 3,500 name petition against the charges, said of the changes: “In so far as they go they are good, but they don’t go far enough.
“It has significantly hurt businesses, you have just got to talk to the business owners. We think Sunday free parking would be a significant improvement.”