A LONG-RUNNING row over parking in a Northumberland market town’s historic centre has been reignited after a police blitz.
The debate over whether vehicles should be allowed to park in Alnwick’s centuries-old market place has flared up again after Northumbria Police carried out a crackdown on Thursday.
An officer is said to have given £70 fines to vehicles judged to be illegally parked or causing an obstruction throughout the morning.
The move has angered traders who own businesses in the cobbled market place, some of who were given tickets.
They have repeated their previous claims that stopping parking means their business suffers, with one trader who was given a ticket claiming the square was like a ghost town following the police move.
The clampdown came after a police boss was encouraged to get tough on cars parking in the market place at a meeting of Alnwick Town Council last week.
At present vehicles are allowed into the square, home to markets and the town’s international music festival, for loading and unloading only.
Parking in the square was outlawed 10 years ago as part of a European-funded, £500,000 pedestrianisation and improvement scheme.
Bryan Thompson, owner of Pringle’s Motor Shop in the market place and also a locksmith, was given a £70 fine for parking in a restricted area, for having his car right outside his shop.
He claims he only brings his car into the square to load and unload but that on Thursday morning he left it longer as he was working alone and could not leave the shop.
Mr Thompson says he has a poster in his car which states that it is owned by the shopkeeper.
He is to fill in a mitigation form in a bid to have the fine quashed and to challenge it in court if necessary.
Mr Thompson said he had taken £11 in two hours on Thursday morning following the police crackdown.
He added: “Thursday is normally a busy day, it has absolutely crippled my business today. It is like a ghost town up here, there is nobody going about.”
Neighbourhood sergeant Neville Wharrier said: “A number of concerns have been raised about inconsiderate parking around the market place and police are responding to these.
“Inconsiderate parking can not only cause traffic issues but can also be dangerous for other road users and pedestrians.”
A working group consisting of town councillors, Alnwick Chamber of Trade, Northumberland County Council officers and member for Alnwick Gordon Castle is to meet on June 7 to try to find a mutually acceptable solution.
Last month, county council officials suggested a number of options including double yellow lines, creating a formal parking area in the square and barriers preventing vehicles getting in.
But concerns have been voiced that yellow lines would spoil the character of the area.