A COUNCIL is set to make a decision on controversial plans to impose parking charges in a market town.

Yarm Town Council has been fighting to block Stockton Borough Council’s plans to start charging shoppers and residents to park in the town centre.

Stockton South MP, James Wharton, is calling on members of the Borough Council to reject the proposals when they meet next Thursday (January 10).

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However, the authority has confirmed that it will continue to speak to the town council and chamber of trade in the coming weeks to try and accommodate some of their recommendations.

The Borough Wide Parking Strategy Review, which goes before Cabinet next week, looks at parking issues in Norton, Billingham, Stockton, Thornaby and Yarm.

Mr Wharton said: “Stockton Council has at least made some concessions and I am pleased they are now talking about a free period of 20 minutes if charges are introduced, a proper residents permit scheme and the need to look for a long-stay parking solution.

“At the end of the day though, this plan does not have local support in Yarm or the surrounding area. People will want to know why Yarm is being singled out for the introduction of parking charges when other areas like Billingham and Norton are not.”

Phil Dennis, Conservative councillor for Eaglescliffe, added: “This is not just about Yarm High Street. Any displaced parking could impact on Eaglescliffe and the local economy could suffer.

"The Council has done a poor job of consulting in Yarm and done pretty much nothing to talk to Eaglescliffe residents. This could have a significant impact, particularly in Egglescliffe Village, yet Stockton Council is pushing ahead with little concern for these issues.”

The councils have been at loggerheads over the proposal to look at imposing parking charges since the idea was originally mooted as part of a Borough-wide assessment of parking need.

Councillor Mike Smith, the Council's cabinet member of regeneration and transport, said: "We welcome alternative car parking proposals suggested by Yarm Town Council and we will be giving them careful consideration at the meeting of the Council's Cabinet.

"Over the coming weeks we will be continuing discussions with Yarm Town Council and the Chamber of Trade so we can explore ways in which the elements of their proposal which compliment the objectives of the Borough wide strategy can be implemented.

"Once a revised proposal for a new Traffic Regulation Order in Yarm has been developed there will be another period of consultation with residents and businesses in the town.”