MP's Call Over Yarm Charges As Middlesbrough Trials Free Parking

Stockton South MP James Wharton believes it will be unforgivable if paid-for parking is introduced in Yarm while Middlesbrough is made free.

Mr Wharton has spoken after Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon announced a trial of free car parking in the town’s shopping centre that he hopes will stimulate the local economy.

Meanwhile in the Conservative MP’s constituency, Stockton Council are making efforts to introduce pay and display parking on Yarm high street.

The move is being fiercely fought by local businesses and Yarm Town Council who are against the plans.

Mr Wharton applauded the initiative being taken by the neighbouring authority.

He said: “This is a sensible move by Middlesbrough and Ray Mallon, the Mary Portas report published by the government last year identified free parking as a key driver in successful High Streets.

“I am pleased Middlesbrough Council has recognised the importance of its town centre and that free parking can play a vital role in regenerating our high streets and retail areas.

“It is such a shame that Stockton Council is too stubborn to take a leaf out of Middlesbrough’s book.

“Just as one Teesside council cuts the cost of parking in its town centre Stockton are trying to force parking charges on Yarm against local wishes.

“If Labour-run Stockton Council ruins Yarm because of its arrogant insistence that parking charges should be introduced there, whilst places like Billingham and Norton remain free, local people will not forgive them.”

The measures unveiled by Mr Mallon last week include free parking for the first two hours in all council-operated town centre car parks and monthly permits for just £20 in Zetland and Station Street car parks.

The town centre parking offers are being considered tomorrow by the council’s Executive and if approved are due to come into effect on Monday, February 18.

A report to the Executive says that Middlesbrough Council has seen a 16% - £500,000 - fall in income from car parking charges because of the downturn in the economy.

The plans could result in the loss of £300,000 in revenue to the council over the proposed six to nine-month trial period, which it is hoped will be offset by the increase in visitors to the town centre.

Mr Mallon has said: “It is the responsibility of this council to do everything we can to assist retailers and businesses at this very difficult time.”

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