PARKING STRATEGY: New charges on the way in Redcar and Cleveland
Councillors have approved a three year car parking strategy for Redcar and Cleveland which will see charges introduced at some popular visitor destinations.
The plans, some of which are still subject to public consultation, will mean visitors having to pay to park on Saltburn’s Marine Parade – described by council chiefs as “highly sought after” by motorists and in a “prime tourist location”.
Charges will also be introduced to park at a currently free car park in Newton under Roseberry, the stopping off point for many people wanting to climb Roseberry Topping.
Some proposals included in the strategy could be introduced by the summer, although the council is already facing a mini-rebellion over the prospect of charges being levied at another visitor spot, Flatts Lane Country Park.
Redcar and Cleveland Council is also considering parking restrictions at Hutton Village, used by some visitors to access nearby Guisborough Forest and Walkway, in order to improve safety and traffic flows following complaints by residents.
Another potential move aimed at reducing parking congestion in the area, although likely to be a longer term one, could lead to the size of the current car park at the walkway being increased.
Separately, the council’s cabinet has also approved a £1m investment in new car parking spaces in Saltburn with money from the Tees Valley Combined Authority-funded ‘Welcome to Redcar and Cleveland’ programme.
The council says its plans are investing for the long term and aim to improve the physical appearance of the borough and enhance prosperity, with elements also tackling climate change and enhancing the environment.
What else can you tell me?
The car parking strategy runs from 2021 to 2024 and touches on a number of areas, including Skinningrove, where additional restrictions are being explored to better manage car parking.
Windy Hill Lane, in Marske, where Marske’s main car park is situated, could also see time limited car parking introduced to increase turnover of vehicles with the aim of allowing more people to use the village’s facilities.
The strategy includes a 12-month pilot allowing users of electric vehicles and ‘zero emission’ cars to park for free in council-run car parks, which it is hoped will reduce carbon emissions and aid the council’s climate change agenda.
New mobile parking apps and cash-free ways of parking are also set to be introduced.
Redcar and Cleveland Council already has a commercial arrangement with ‘RingGo’ allowing drivers to pay for parking in council-run car parks using their mobile phone, with the operator of the service – Park Now – receiving about £40,000 in revenue from motorists in the borough each year.
Where enforcement of car parking is concerned, the strategy states the council will look to adopt an “intelligent approach with council enforcement officers deployed flexibly across the borough to ensure that people are parking their vehicles in a safe and orderly way”.
In addition the council will look to “digital means to complement and enhance enforcement capability”.
Camper vans also feature in the strategy. Last summer parts of the borough saw a huge number of camper vans descend on some coastal locations with more people holidaying at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
The council intends to designate and publicise the Majuba Road car park in Redcar as a ‘camper van-friendly’ car park for overnight use.
It is also considering introducing public toilets for use at the car park, although it is thought that these would have to be hired at significant cost.
Elsewhere, enforcement restrictions could be introduced to discourage camper vans, including at Cowbar, near Staithes, where residents have complained about their use, and on the Stray at Redcar, preventing overnight parking.
What about Saltburn?
Saltburn attracts the most visitors to Redcar and Cleveland each year of any area in the borough.
Between July and October last year an estimated 1.34m people visited the beach at Saltburn.
The council says there have been requests for many years from the local community, residents and businesses in the town to increase car parking due to overcrowding during peak periods.
A total of 194 extra car parking spaces are now to be created through increasing capacity on Marine Parade – where 123 new bays and six new disabled bays are being introduced on the eastern side of the parade – along with extending the Cat Nab park on the Lower Foreshore and creating a separate car park at the pumping station, opposite Cat Nab.
A field adjoining Hob Hill car park, on the outskirts of the town, could also be “regraded” and landscaped so it can be used for event parking and during peak periods, while a park and ride from this location is being explored for large events such as Saltburn food festival.
A council report said: “This increased capacity will ensure that there is better provision of off-street parking easing the current on-street parking pressures within the town, ensuring that Saltburn is a safe, attractive and vibrant place for visitors.”
The council has also stated its intention that “any income generated from car parking which goes beyond the costs of delivering the service is reinvested to make improvements”.
Former council leader Sue Jeffrey queried the cost of the proposed car parking spaces in Saltburn, based on the estimated capital cost of the schemes and the spaces expected to be provided.
A total of £415,000 is being spent on the Cat Nab car park extension which will create 24 new bays and six disabled bays, £160,000 on the new pumping station car park, creating 24 bays and one disabled bay, while £295,000 will go on providing the new Marine Parade parking spaces.
She said: “The cost of car parking spaces at Cat Nab is £11,000 per space and you compare with that what is proposed at Marine Parade which is £2,000 a space.
“What price are we prepared to pay for a car parking space – does it not matter?
“Do we do no value for money assessment on how much each car parking space is costing and whether it is good use of council tax payers’ money?
Andrew Carter, assistant director of growth and enterprise at the council, said: “Unfortunately this is what it costs to develop car parking at sites where there are constraints.
“We are basically building a new car park at Cat Nab in terms of what we have to put in there to get the capacity increase we are looking for.
“The budget to deliver this is a healthy budget – there is a healthy optimism bias in there for any contingency so that we can do it within the cost envelope and hopefully bring it in under budget.
“What I don’t want to do is to bring a proposal and subsequently not have enough money and bring it back again for additional money to deliver it.”
Saltburn councillor Philip Thomson, leader of the Conservative group on the council, told the Local Democracy Reporting service that he had been lobbying for extra capacity on Marine Parade for more than four years.
As well as the extra parking, the council is planning to introduce a free parking permit scheme for residents living in the so-called ‘jewel streets’ leading off Marine Parade and their visitors so they can also take advantage of the new spaces should it be necessary.
Cllr Thomson said: “Some residents are genuinely concerned they can’t park reasonably close to their properties because of the current restrictions capacity-wise.
“I am not against the principal of parking fees, but we have to think about residents first and foremost.
“They are already plagued by tourists, many of whom do not observe the niceties of life and particularly at the moment when they are guided to stay at home that seems to have passed by hundreds of people who are continuing to stream into Saltburn.
“I do believe that to visit any tourist area today one would expect to find car parking with a charge associated with it.
“However there are many people in East Cleveland who come to Saltburn to take the air, many to walk their dogs and I think there may be concern expressed by that element.”
What are councillors saying about Flatts Lane Country Park?
The park is said by council officers to “closely mirror the offer” at Guisborough Forest and Walkway, where charges on motorists are imposed.
Charges at Flatts Lane would range from £1 to £3 to park for between one and three hours or £4 to park all day.
But the prospect of visitors paying has attracted the ire of several councillors who scrutinised the car parking strategy before it was considered by cabinet members.
Councillor Billy Ayre, who represents the Normanby ward for Labour, said: “In Middlesbrough Stewart’s Park – less than three miles away – their car parking is free and they have more facilities and more going on than at Flatts Lane.
“Just because car parking fees were introduced at Guisborough Forest several years ago that is no justification for introducing car parking fees elsewhere.
“It will cost quite a few thousand pounds to put in car parking machines and what return will you get on it – just a few bob each week.”
Councillor Chris Foley-McCormack, another Labour member representing Normanby, said: “It is totally wrong to charge [at Flatts Lane], there is nothing there except for a little centre that was supposed to be renewed that wasn’t.
“There are also people who come from all over the country for the park runs there.
“It is a deprived area the Eston district and this is totally wrong and I would like to object to it.”
Cllr Jeffrey said: “It serves a different demographic to Guisborough Forest and Walkway and the facilities aren’t there.
“If you put a parking fee on people will park in the NHS car park across the road, then you have the danger of them crossing Flatts Lane.
“There shouldn’t be car parking charges.
“It will be such a small amount of income raised and it will put people off from going out and getting the fresh air, therefore I hope it can be reconsidered.”
And speaking at a meeting of the cabinet, Liberal Democrat Councillor Glyn Nightingale, who represents the Ormesby ward, said: “There is a really narrow road nearby and that is a real complication in terms of charging.
“I hope the charging regime does not go ahead until we have a really good look at what is involved in the geography around that area.”
What’s the view at Hutton Village and Newton under Roseberry?
Conservative Councillor Malcolm Griffiths represents both areas.
He said: “Which one has the more acute parking problem is open to debate.
“The difficulty with parking adjacent to Hutton Village is that it has got to the stage where it is preventing people from getting free access to the village.
“It is the sheer volume of cars and again it is a very narrow road.
“Newton under Roseberry attracts a tremendous amount of people and when the very small council car park there is full there are people parking on the main road, which it isn’t a very wide road anyway.
“In the summer months two or three times last year they were parking either side of the road and it was highly dangerous to be frank.”
What else is being said by those on the council?
Robert Hoof, the assistant director of environment, told council scrutiny members that good quality car parking, which was managed, was normally paid for through charges.
He said: “The opposite to that is huge amounts of free car parking that isn’t managed and therefore is of low quality and is sometimes misused.
“Last year we did not have sufficient resources to manage car parking properly and had a lot of issues with inappropriate parking and camper van parking.
“We can put in reasonable charges and invest that into a good quality service for everybody’s benefit.
“We have to bring in charges somewhere.”
Cabinet member Councillor Mary Ovens said: “We still have significant inequalities across the borough and some areas seem to be easy targets [for charges].
“People get a little bit annoyed with it in some places and not in others.”
Other councillors said they were supportive of the car parking strategy, but pointed out that more needed also to be done to get people to use public transport.
Councillor Wayne Davies, another cabinet member, said: “We want to be encouraging people to come to the borough, but where possible thinking of an alternative way of getting there as a way of reducing the impact on the climate.
“We know public transport isn’t the greatest in the area, but it needs to be considered alongside a car parking strategy in trying to encourage people to use other forms of transport rather than always bringing their own car.”
Teesville Councillor Vincent Smith said: “Public transport needs to fit into the strategy because we don’t want to keep increasing car parking spaces and encouraging more cars.”
Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter
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