RESIDENTS are protesting over controversial proposals to introduce parking restrictions in a County Durham village.

Two petitions have been launched against the plans, which would see the introduction of two-hour parking bays on parts of the main road through Middleton-in-Teesdale.

Durham County Council’s traffic section has decided to press ahead with proposals after carrying out an initial consultation in the village.

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However, Diane Spark, who has circulated petition forms among businesses, said only those people most directly affected by the proposals had been asked for their views.

“The wider village was not consulted. We can’t find a business in the village that supports these proposals,” she said.

Thousands of outdoor enthusiasts use Middleton-in-Teesdale as a base for walking and part of the reason given for parking restrictions is to stop them taking up spaces for an entire day.

But Ms Spark added: “There isn’t really a parking problem in the village – what they are proposing will create one where one doesn’t exist.”

Ms Spark, who lives in the village, said she feared parking restrictions would have an adverse effect on businesses.

Hayley Bell, who lives in Ettersgill but works in the village, has launched an online petition.

She said: “As a village we are trying to encourage people to stop and use the facilities and we feel that placing restrictions on parking would deter visitors from stopping in Middleton-in-Teesdale.

“Funds would be better spent on signposting to the long stay car parks at the former field studies centre and the working men’s club.”

She also queried the cost of parking restrictions and how they would be policed.

County councillor Richard Bell, whose Barnard Castle West ward covers Middleton-in-Teesdale, said he would be “comfortable” with introducing parking restrictions for a trial period.

“It is clear that there is no consensus,” he said.

“It is a limited experiment and needs to be treated as such. After a year, if they don’t work, I would be quite happy to ask the county council to take them out.

“What we are trying to do is get a bit more turnover in the centre of the village so places are not taken all by walkers who park there all day.”

Durham County Council is preparing to advertise a traffic regulation order after which objections will be considered by the authority’s highways committee.