Council to increase existing parking charges and end free Sunday parking in Durham City

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have approved proposals to increase existing parking charges and end free Sunday parking at council-owned on and off-street sites from 1st April 2024, despite significant local opposition to the proposed changes.

At a Highways Committee meeting on 20th February which saw the proposals waived through, Dave Lewin, Strategic Traffic Manager for explained the reasoning behind these changes. Mr. Lewin said that when parking charges were initially introduced in the city in May 2003, they were applied to Monday to Saturday parking as an attempt to relieve congestion in the city on these days, with Sunday being less busy at the time.

However, Mr. Lewin remarked that since then “the trading environment has changed” noting the increased number of shops open on a Sunday as one of the reasons causing “as much of a problem on a Sunday in Durham City as we had previously [Monday to Saturday, with congestion]”.

Citing congestion, the council have decided to introduce Sunday parking charges and increase existing on-street parking charges from 20-80p (varying based on proximity to the city centre) to 30-90p for half an hour’s parking from 8am-6pm. It is hoped that this will drive commuters and tourists out of Durham City centre parking sites and into council-owned Park and Ride facilities at Belmont and Sniperley. The council say that this move will make more space for local residents to park near their homes and will also reduce carbon emissions in the city centre.

Parking charges are set to increase from 20-80p to 30-90p on 1st April 2024

The council also said that by increasing parking charges on their off-street sites, namely, at The Sands, Providence Row, and Sandgate car parks, this will “bring [Durham County Council] in line with private sector parking providers in the City” such as Prince Bishops, Riverwalk and Walkergate car parks.

Regarding the increased income the council will receive from implementing the changes, it has been proposed that they should go towards running a Sunday service of Durham’s Park and Ride facilities.

In support of these changes, Councillor David Freeman, said it would be a “win-win for the council”, reiterating the suggested environmental benefits in light of “serious air quality problems within Durham City”, residents’ struggles to park near their homes, and the advantages of extending Park and Ride services.

Yet, the proposals did not prove popular with other council members; Councillor Marion Wilson opposed the changes, saying:

“I think bringing in charges, especially on a Sunday is going to deter visitors, and it’s going to deter local visitors as well. Where I live I wouldn’t go to a Park and Ride, because it would be quicker for me to go into Durham.

“If I’ve got my family with me, I want to be able to go in, park up, have a look around, maybe go for food […] families aren’t going to do that if there’s going to be parking charges.”

We’ve almost seen no support for it from local members, no support from the public at all”

CLLR. DANNY WOOD

In addition, Councillor Danny Wood remarked on the volume of public objections made towards the changes in a public consultation questionnaire which ran from 23rd October-13th November 2023.  During the consultation, 545 objections were made, 302 in response to introducing Sunday parking charges, and 243 in response to increasing existing charges, with only 50 responses made in favour of the proposals.

Regarding these figures, Cllr. Wood commented that: “I think the consultation responses back up that most people believe this will hurt local businesses in Durham, and I don’t see how we can get around that.

“I have an issue with how we’re badging this as being more about capacity concerns and reducing carbon emissions. Really, it’s a budget saving and we shouldn’t be pretending it’s anything else.

“We’ve almost seen no support for it from local members, no support from the public at all, and on the basis of that I’m not willing to support the recommendation.”

These changes follow recent controversy over the council’s decision to end free parking after 2pm in Durham City, which Palatinate reported on in January. Free parking was initially introduced in April 2021 to support the recovery of trade in Durham City following the Covid-19 pandemic, and saw similar concerns raised over the impact on local businesses when it was brought to an end earlier this year.

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One thought on “Council to increase existing parking charges and end free Sunday parking in Durham City

  • As the parking costs now include Sundays why can’t the park and ride also include Sundays?

    Reply

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