COUNCILLORS have voted to limit parking at a popular town centre car park to no more than three hours.

Durham County Council’s highways committee heard Consett traders had been demanding restrictions for the town’s main Albert Road car park for many years.

On the two days the council monitored the 157-space facility last July, it was at least 90 per cent occupied by 9am and, of an average of 477 vehicles parking each day, 121 stayed for more than three hours.

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Town centre traders say they are losing out because motorists are unable to park on Albert Road and pop in quickly.

Today (Wednesday, March 12), the committee voted unanimously to introduce a three-hour limit between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Saturday, with no return within one hour.

Consett South councillor David Hicks said it was a long-term problem in the town, because nine times out of ten the car park is full.

“Traders in Consett have been up in arms for years about this.”

Delves Lane member Bob Glass said there was cross-party support.

“The traders need a turnover of people going in and coming out and Albert Road is the car park that’s needed.”

The scheme has met with some opposition.

Some people working in Consett say they will be left without anywhere to park all day, while people living nearby say parking will be displaced onto their streets.

However, Dave Wafer, the council’s strategic traffic manager, said: “We are prioritising shoppers over people who work there. We make no apologies for that.

“The best spaces should be for people coming in to shop. Workers should use other car parks.”

Other car parks are available, Mr Wafer said, including at Sherburn Terrace, Green Street, Edith Street and the bus station.

Supermarket car parks are already time-limited and it was not realistic to subsidise a park-and-ride project, he added.

“If we had lots of money to build bright, shiny new car parks that would be wonderful, but that’s not where we are,” Mr Wafer said.

Coun Barbara Armstrong said: “There’s not a lot to attract people into Consett town centre so anything we can do has got to be good.”