TRADERS have welcomed plans to introduce a three-hour limit at a town’s biggest car park.

Durham County Council is considering restricting waiting times in the Albert Road car park in Consett, which currently has no limits on parking.

It followed concerns raised by town centre businesses that many spaces were being taken up by drivers parking all day which was putting off shoppers planning a shorter visit.

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George McKay, vice-chairman of Consett Town Traders’ Association, who runs McKay’s Kilts and Medals on Station Road, said: "We are hoping that the people who use Albert Road car park will shop and use the shops that are left in Consett town centre, which in turn will save businesses, save employment and hopefully bring new businesses into the centre.

"You have got various people using that car park, which is people who park there and go to work elsewhere in the county, or those who park there and go walking or cycling and don’t invest any money in any of the shops or traders."

Consultation on the proposal was carried out in October and November, but several people have objected to the scheme, including residents concerned that it will create parking problems in surrounding streets.

The proposal is now expected to go to Durham County Council’s Highways Committee over the next few weeks.

Coun Alex Watson, who represents the area on Durham County Council, said: "Something has got to be done and all of the councillors were supportive of it.

"Three hours is a fair amount of time to do shopping or attend to whatever business you have in the town."

The proposal is to limit visits for three hours between 8am and 6pm Monday through Saturday. Motorists who stay longer risk getting a fixed penalty parking notice.

Previous ideas of using pay and display systems to charge for all parking have been rejected.

Durham County Council said the Highways Committee would be held at a date to be determined in March.

A spokeswoman for the authority said: "We published a notice in October and there were some objections to it.

"If there had been no objections then we would have gone ahead with it, but the procedure is that it will go to committee.

"Councillors will be able to weigh the proposal against the objections."