Seaside visitors will have to pay car parking charges under new plans for the East Durham coast.

Durham County Council is consulting on proposals to introduce a £3 per day or £1 per hour parking charge.

The Northern Echo understands charges could be introduced at the following sites:

  • Crimdon Dene Coastal Car Park
  • Seaham Hall (Beach)
  • Vane Tempest
  • Terrace Green (North Terrace)
  • Seaham Marina
  • Dock Top
  • Noses Point
  • B1287 North Road / East Shore Drive, Seaham

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In an email to stakeholders, Durham County Council claims that the coastal car parks on the East Durham coastline are often over capacity, and the charge will help manage occupancy, increase turnover, and increase the expectation of a space being available for visitors.

But Easington MP Grahame Morris has criticised the proposals.

He said: “I oppose the introduction of parking charges, which are a false economy that will impact business and trade.

“We want to welcome more people to visit Crimdon Dene and Seaham; many attracted by free parking and easy access to the beach.

“As Durham County Council is fully aware, the vast majority of people have no option but to drive into places like Crimdon and Seaham due to the appalling state of our public transport, which too often makes our coastline inaccessible by bus or rail.”

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Mr Morris is encouraging residents to engage in the consultation and share their views with the council.

He added: “I want to welcome more people to our coastline, but new parking charges will deter visitors and lead to others seeking free parking in neighbouring residential streets.

“These proposals are unwelcome; they do not have the support of any elected representative from the Member of Parliament, local county councillors, or town and parish councils. 

“These charges have nothing to do with managing parking and are a simple cash grab by a failing Conservative-led Coalition at Durham County Council, which has failed to properly manage local public finances.”

"I hope the community will make their views clear on these proposals before the deadline.”

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Councillor Elizabeth Scott, the council’s cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said the proposals would bring 'many benefits' to communities, the wider economy and the environment.

She said parking charges support the commercial viability of town centres and attractions by ensuring a turnover of spaces.

She said: "This would increase parking availability for visitors and boost the number of people coming into communities and spending money with local businesses.

“What we are proposing would also address some of the issues that residents in coastal communities raise with us, such as that of badly parked vehicles obstructing access.

"Our plans would also help lower emissions and improve local air quality, by reducing the need for drivers to circulate around car parks multiple times until they find a space, or queue for one to become vacant.

“In addition, charges would give the county council an important income stream, helping to fund the management and maintenance of parking facilities.

"And in turn, this would benefit those who use public transport, or walk or cycle, as any surplus income generated from parking would be ringfenced for transport measures.”

People have until November 10 and can express their view by emailing: