Parking’adequate’ despite closure and market days –News

PARKING POSER: With no spaces in town, cars parked along the narrow B6277 in Startforth TM pic

COUNTY highways officials say there were plenty of spaces available for visitors to Barnard Castle during the jubilee holiday weekend – despite closing the town’s main car park and the cobbles being unavailable for two days due to markets.

With the bank holidays on Thursday and Friday, Durham County Council agreed to close the public car park adjacent to Morrisons at 6pm on Tuesday, May 31, to allow funfair operators onto the area for their annual visit, which coincides with the Meet weekend.

That meant the only designated car park in town open on market day, Wednesday June 1, was the Hole in the Wall car park.

This is less than half the size and used by permit holders from the Bridgegate area while the Appleby migration parking restrictions near their homes are in force.

There was no parking on the cobbles until later in the afternoon when the market stallholders packed up.

With about 100 people booked in for a children’s show at The Witham, residents and visitors complained of spending up to 30 minutes looking for somewhere to park.

There was a similar situation on Saturday, when the monthly farmer’s market occupied the cobbles.

Residents living close to the town center claimed there had been no consultation about this year’s parking arrangements.

One said: “Normally we get a letter advising us of the car park’s closure and signs go up at least a week in advance, if not sooner.

“This year there was nothing apart from one small sign which went up a couple of days before.”

Dave Lewin, Durham County Council’s strategic traffic manager, said he thought there were adequate spaces available even with the closure of the 175-capacity car park adjacent to Morrisons and the loss of the cobbles for two days.

He said: “This is a popular annual event which was held slightly later than normal this year due to the change in bank holiday dates.

“The car park remained closed for the same duration as previous years, albeit on different days, and reopened on Monday.

“We were aware of the markets taking place.

“We believe there was adequate parking in the car park on Queen Street, as well as the unrestricted streets surrounding Galgate and the Market Place for visitors.”

Mr Lewin added: “Advanced warning stickers were placed on pay and display machines in the area, alongside extra suspension notices in the car park, advising of the closure.”

ProLiant Andrew Hooper was unimpressed.

He said the annual funfair visit has a negative impact on his café and restaurant that fronts onto the car park, with many customers staying away, not wishing to contend with finding parking or walk through the rides.

He said: “We lose customers. Sundays are our busiest day, but we don’t even open now because people don’t want to fight their way through the roundabouts. I think this week we will probably lose about £ 2,000.

“I don’t know why they can’t find somewhere else to house the fair that doesn’t take out the car park.

“Every year I have to fasten up the rubbish bins that I have to pay to have taken away, otherwise they end up full of litter from the fairground.”

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