PARKING: Campaign to drop charge

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I wholeheartedly endorse the comments by Paul Slattery about the futility of the decision to introduce parking tariffs at Tynemouth Metro Station, (News Guardian, January 5).

During my time as a Tynemouth ward councillor rumours would circulate from time to time that charges were going to be introduced at the station, but I campaigned and received assurances from the council that there were no plans to put prices up.

Following the introduction of parking charges at the station, I wrote to Station Developments, the company that owns the land around the station, including the access road, which encompasses the car park.

I pointed out that the station has traditionally provided a vital park-and-ride facility for those who work in Newcastle and beyond. The loss of such a service was causing real financial hardship because few people can afford to pay for all-day parking.

I further pointed out that if the objective was to make money, then it had failed because commuters were instead parking in Birtley Avenue and adjoining streets, causing the congestion and obstruction problems that Mr Slattery refers to, whilst the station car park remains empty all day.

I asked Station Developments to consider dropping the charges, thus contributing to the economic viability of the local area.

Station Developments’ response was to say that it had been in discussion regarding reducing the charges at Tynemouth for all-day parking and these costs would be introduced within the next few weeks. That was in November. It did not say with whom it had been in discussion.

It went on to say that “the charges have been implemented as part of the company’s commitment to ensure that the condition of the Grade II listed building is maintained following the recent extensive refurbishment”.

The newly refurbished station was officially opened in July 2012.

I understood that the aim of the station renovation was to see it restored as a vibrant gateway to the coast and to give it a sustainable future. Additional parking was one of the components of the improved infrastructure. It is difficult to square those ambitions with the decision to implement hefty parking charges.

Mr Slattery is probably correct in guessing that Station Developments would not have implemented the increased parking charges without the approval of the council, with which it has had a partnership working relationship.

I intend to remain in contact with Station Developments and will continue to make the case for free parking to be reinstated.

Mr Slattery and any other local residents who feel strongly about the issue may wish to do the same.

Jean McLaughlin

Tynemouth