COUNCILLORS have rejected plans to introduce parking charges at a popular tourist attraction.
Hartlepool Borough Council officers had put forward plans for a daily charge of £1 in the car park serving Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience (HME) in order to ensure there are enough spaces for genuine visitors.
But councillors on the neighbourhood services committee rejected the plans because they didn’t want to put visitors off and there was also concerns about the £30,000 cost of installing six pay and display ticket machines, signage and remarking the parking bays.
At the meeting officers stressed that visitors to HME would not be disadvantaged as they would be able to redeem the parking charge against the cost of admission.
The proposals followed concerns that large numbers of drivers are parking there to avoid town centre parking charges, attend matches at Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park or escape vigorous parking enforcement on neighbouring privately-owned land.
Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher said: “To me, charging for parking there sends out the wrong message.
“We should be saying that Hartlepool is open for business and the proposals seem quite bureaucratic.
“We need to make our attractions as easy a possible to access.”
Putting Hartlepool First councillor Steve Gibbon said: “I accept £1 is not a great deal of money.
“But once that is introduced there is nothing to stop it being increased in future.”
Labour councillor Jim Ainslie said people he had spoken to within the Headland and Harbour ward were “hostile” to a charge being brought in.
Committee members asked officers to come back to them with plans and costs of remarking the bays on the whole site to see if that would help ensure there is enough space for visitors without having to charge people.
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