PARENTS are being given just five minutes to drop their children off at a County Durham athletics club before being hit with parking fines.

A number of visitors to the Riverside Sports Complex, in Chester-le-Street, have complained about the tight timescale in which they are expected to park in nearby pay and display car parks, take children to the club, return to their vehicle and leave before having to pay for a ticket.

North Durham MP Kevan Jones has urged Durham County Council, which operates the car park, to apply “common sense” to the situation.

He added: “Even the most athletic of parents would be hard-pressed to drop their children off within the current five-minute window.”

Mr Jones has asked the council to considering introducing a parking waiver scheme for parents of children who attend an athletics club at the complex.

He said that, given almost all other council-owned car parking in County Durham is currently free after 2pm, it is “difficult to justify not allowing a little longer for parents dropping their children off at this club”.

But the authority has said drivers get plenty of time to park and drop off or collect people using the complex before a ticket is required.

And Council Leader Amanda Hopgood said there had previously been issues with unsafe and inconsiderate parking in the area.

Head of transport and contract services for Durham County Council, Dave Wafer, said the five minute window for drop off is sufficient “due to the proximity of the car park to the drop off point".

He added: “No change to the current arrangement is required. If any activity other than dropping off/picking up is taking place, then a pay and display ticket should be purchased.

“Parking charges are used as a tool to discourage long stay parking and encourage a turnover of short stay visitors to access the amenities in the area.

“Additionally, as there are various overheads associated with the operation of the car parks, including water rates, business rates, and servicing and maintenance costs, charging for parking at the current rate covers the expenditure that would otherwise be paid for by the taxpayer.”

Mr Jones wrote to Cllr Hopgood, to say parents were “deeply concerned” about fines issued by parking wardens and the council should encourage young people to take part in physical activity, in line with its 'Move' campaign.

He said the current situation is “penalising parents for dropping their children off at the club, rather than encouraging greater community use of the sports facilities we have down at The Riverside”.

Chairman of the Chester-le-Street Athletic Club, Phil Corless, who has himself received a parking fine, feels the situation is “bizarre” and feels like the council “don't want people to keep fit and healthy”.

He said: “Everyone's had it very difficult during Covid. And people have been encouraged by the government to go out and keep themselves fit and healthy. But I think almost it feels as though people are being penalised for it. It's really imperative that we keep young people and older people fit and healthy."

Cllr Hopgood said: “We were asked by police to monitor the situation regarding parking at the Riverside ground after reports were received of cars being parked on double yellow lines and in an unsafe manner.

“We appreciate the importance of physical activity and do not want to discourage participation in sports clubs.

“Therefore, we are looking into the issues raised and will work with the athletics club to find a solution, taking into consideration the views of both residents and those attending the ground.”

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054