MORE on-street parking spaces have been created in an effort to attract more visitors to Bishop Auckland town centre.

Durham County Council officers have increased the number of short stay parking bays and removed unnecessary loading bays and double yellow lines.

The number of limited waiting spaces has gone from seven to 48 and blue badge spaces have increased from 43 to 55.

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The extra spaces can be found in the Market Place, North Bondgate, Fore Bondgate, Finkle Street, Tenters Street, Saddler Street, Westgate Road, Newgate Street and Victoria Avenue.

In addition, there are plans to turn the former bus station in North Bondgate into a car park with more than 150 spaces.

However, concerns have been raised at the number of motorists receiving tickets in the town, with an average of 104 a month handed out for wrongly parking in a loading bay and an average of 154 over the same period for failing to display a valid blue badge in a disabled bay.

Bishop Auckland county Councillor Joy Allen said: “We want to do as much as we can to support the businesses. It concerns me about the number of people getting tickets when it could have been avoided. It bothers me because I think will they come back.

“The county council is doing its best to create more spaces but some are still not being used like the ones behind Argos and below the multi-storey car park.

“We all have to work together. People still come up to me and say they can’t get parked.”

There are also proposals to change short stay parking charges in car parks with 60p for two hours with 50p for every extra hour as opposed to the current tariff of 60p for two hours and £1.60 for up to three hours.

Dave Wafer, Durham County Council’s strategic traffic manager, said: “We have removed restrictions that are no longer required in order to create additional parking spaces for visitors.

“We have also been talking to businesses and getting rid of loading bays and double yellow lines where they are not needed. All of the new spaces have a 30-minute or one-hour limit.

“We would encourage people to use these new bays and avoid parking in restricted areas. Hopefully, the new makings and bays should help and we will continue to try and improve parking for visitors and traders alike.”