PARKING charges are to be introduced to a market town after a council’s controversial proposals cleared the final hurdle tonight (Thursday, January 10).

Stockton Borough Council had been at loggerheads with Yarm Town Council for several years over its plan to start charging shoppers and residents to park in the town centre.

A long running legal battle between the two councils ended in October when a Judicial review found in favour of the Borough council.

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The council's pay-and-display scheme will see up to 80 high street spaces converted to short stay and a sliding scale of charges introduced. Most charges will be £1-an-hour.

The proposal, which is part of a borough-wide parking review which went before cabinet, looked at parking in Norton, Billingham, Stockton, Thornaby and Yarm.

Before moving the final proposals, the council worked closely with Yarm Town Council and the town’s Chamber of Trade to make some changes following their recommendations.

One of the concessions saw Stockton Council increase the proposed period of free parking from ten to 20 minutes before charges.

Outlining the report, the council’s head of technical services Richard McGukin reassured councillors and members of the public, who attended the meeting in Stockton Library, the parking charges were not to raise revenue for the authority.

Councillor Mike Smith, cabinet member for regeneration and transport, said: “It is not about politics or about money – it’s about improved traffic management.”

As part of a consultation process, the authority identified up to 100 residents who would qualify for a parking permit costing £10-a-year.

Councillor Mark Chatburn, who represents the town on the Borough Council, said: “I was pleased to hear about the residents permits, but with the number of permits being 100, give or take, will that not cause a problem on Saturday when many people could be parked all day?”

However, Mr McGukin told the councillor that their research had shown that 50 per cent of residents went out on a Saturday, but promised to monitor the situation.

The members unanimously agreed the plans for the borough-wide review and the council will now start implementing the statutory process to implement the parking charges.

As part of the scheme, the members also agreed to authorise officers to look for suitable land to create a long stay car park for the town, using compulsory purchase orders if necessary.