'Really disappointing' - Car parking charges to be introduced at popular Crimdon Beach near Hartlepool

Car parking charges will be introduced at a popular beach later this year.
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Motorists using parking spaces at Crimdon Beach will have to pay up to £3 per day during their stay from April after controversial proposals were approved by Durham county councillors.

A highways committee meeting heard how Durham County Council is the only authority on the North East coast to currently offer free parking.

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That will soon change at the start of the new financial year when the changes are enforced at seven locations as part of plans to raise much-needed funds, manage usage and increase the turnover of spaces.

Parking charges are to be introduced at Crimdon Beach from April. Picture by FRANK REIDParking charges are to be introduced at Crimdon Beach from April. Picture by FRANK REID
Parking charges are to be introduced at Crimdon Beach from April. Picture by FRANK REID

The council said the coastal car parking areas up the A19 in Seaham, where most of the charges are to be introduced, are often full and can lead to congestion, limited availability and difficulties for both visitors and local businesses.

But among the 2,928 objections – around 98% of responses to a public consultation exercise – one of the most pertinent concerns was the impact the charges will have on local businesses.

People who responded included local MP Grahame Morris, councillors and traders.

Only 73 responses in favour of the charges were received.

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From April 1, visitors will be charged £1 per hour or £3 all day to park at the sites.

Councillor Kevin Shaw, who represents Dawdon, labelled the charges “really disappointing” and suggested it is a backwards step.

He told the meeting: “Rather than going to nearby Roker and Seaburn, people go to Seaham because there aren’t any parking charges.”

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Workers estimated that it could cost up to £1,000 to park a year, the meeting heard.

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Questioning the overwhelming amount of public objections, he added: “Why carry out these consultations if we’re just going to draw a line through it?”

Cllr Shaw’s concerns were echoed by Cllr David McKenna, who represents the Seaham ward.

He said: “It’s self-defeating and we’re going to lose businesses. Our biggest asset is free parking and we’re losing it.”

The proposals were approved by a majority of councillors, however, with Cllr Joanne Howey saying that the extra funding will help maintain the quality of the car parks.

She added: “A pound for an hour or £3 a day is less than a cup of coffee usually.”