PARKING rules are to be relaxed in a “struggling” market town in time for the run-up to Christmas in a bid to encourage more shoppers to visit

Community leaders in Chester-le-Street have welcomed the move, which will continue after the all-important festive trading season, saying the town’s shops have struggled in recent years.

People visiting the town will soon be able to move between short-term and long-term car parks, respectively, without having to buy another ticket each time.

Recently-elected Independent Durham county councillor Paul Sexton welcomed the decision.

He said: “Chester-le-Street’s high street and Market Place have struggled over recent years.

“Since I have been elected in May I have been focussing on regeneration of the town, including parking, to try and see if we can get more people to visit the town.

“One bone of contention has been that if you buy a ticket in either a long-stay or short-stay car park you must buy another ticket if you move to another car park with the same tariff.

“This is extremely frustrating for shoppers, who might have a considerable time left on their ticket.”

He added: “Personally, I’ve paid for a ticket and had to fork out for another further down the high street.

“It’s not just the cost, it’s the inconvenience if you have no change and have to put in a £1, when you only need a few minutes to buy something at a particular shop.

“This is why I’m excited at the prospect of seeing residents take advantage of this initiative.

“Durham County Council have been good in listening to me and acknowledge that transferrable valid tickets, may incentivise people to use our town more.”

Adrian White, head of transport and contract services, said: “We want to make accessing the wonderful array of shops and facilities in Chester-le-Street town centre as easy and as cost-effective as possible.

“Therefore, from December 2017 we will allow pay and display tickets purchased in our short and long stay car parks to be transferable between our car parks which share the same tariff”.

He added: “So, a ticket bought in a short stay car park will be valid in any of our other short stay car parks, and the same applies for transferring tickets between long term car parks.

“We hope this will encourage visitors to stay longer and enjoy everything the town has to offer in the run up to Christmas and beyond.”