Residents have had their say on the reintroduction of car parking charges on a Teesside high street.

The Echo’s reporter took to Redcar high street, the promenade, and the surrounding area on Wednesday (January 17) to speak with people regarding the re-introduction and price increase of car parking charges in the town.

On an afternoon most notable for its sub-zero temperatures, many in town spoke about how the new fees could lead to the freezing out of both businesses and visitors.

Previously, the car parking charges before the TVCA relief fund was granted were £1.20 for the first hour, £1.70 for an additional two hours, and £1.20 for each additional hour.

Now, however, the charges have increased to  £1.60 for one hour, and £2.20 for each additional hour, making it £6 for three hours.

The Northern Echo:

John Brooks, a retiree who has lived in Redcar for around three years, called the reintroduction of the charges a “crazy move.”

He said: “I don’t understand where the philosophy comes from.

“It’s another nail in the coffin of high streets. Where I come from originally [Sittingbourne], the high street was dying because of charges.

“And I think again, this town could be on its way. Despite the regeneration, people still need money to spend and car parking charges don’t help.

“One of the attractions of this place was you could park, do your shopping, go home. Use the local shops, not the big stores out of town.”

He questioned whether footfall on the high street had decreased due to the freezing weather, or if it was a result of the new parking rules.

The Northern Echo:

After turning a corner, our reporter spoke with Michael Whitley, 59, a retired chemical worker from Redcar, who held a diplomatic view of the council’s decision.

He said he does not agree with the reintroduction of the charges, but understands the council’s need to find funds.

He said: “I know the councils don’t have any choice. They should find another way.

“The money they waste on feasibility studies could be better used to make bigger places for car parks.

“I’m strongly against it.”

The Northern Echo:

Theo and Veronice Kuechel, both aged 74, from West Yorkshire, visit the town several times each year.

The two said the charges had caught them by surprise on their latest trip.

Mr Kuechel said: “[It’s] expensive. I imagine people will still come [to the town], but nobody will be happy about it.

“I think people will still come.”

They said they are not sure whether the new charges will have a negative impact on the town, but believe it is a possibility.

The Northern Echo:

Christopher, who owns his own plumbing and heating company in Redcar, said he believes the decision to bring the charges back will “kill a lot of businesses” on the high street.

He said: “I’ve been talking to a young lady in Subway and the hairdressers, and they said the parking spaces aren’t full anymore.

“There’s not many people down Redcar town now even with it being a nice day.

“It’s going to really struggle, it’s not going to be a good thing.

“I think [the council] should try and find an alternative to be honest, it’s hitting different people in different ways and people are struggling.

“I think it’s going to have a long-lasting effect. I come downtown sometimes on a weekend and it’s desolate compared to what it used to be years ago.”

The Northern Echo:

Meanwhile, Andrew Paton, 46, owner of Redcar Models situated on the high street, said he believes the council’s decision will hurt local businesses.

Speaking inside of the model shop located just opposite some high street parking, Mr Paton said he understands the council’s need to raise funds but does not think this action is the “right way” to achieve this.

He noted it has already made an impact on his trade with one or two customers letting him know they might not come in as often due to the parking fees.

He said: “I do seriously think it’s going to have some impact. With the loss of Chiltern Mills and Wilkos, it already has shown signs of quieting down, especially at this end of the high street.

“The customers that would come in here could just quickly park up, come in, pick up whatever they wanted, and be away again.

“I do honestly think it’s going to have an effect. If it continues any longer, it’s going to get worse.

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“I really think that the council need to reverse [it]. Even if it’s just free for the first hour, at least it gives the customer the opportunity to come in quickly and get back out again.”

Mr Paton added that he worries the charges will adversely affect small business owners such as himself.

He believes the charges only serve as another reason for people to not travel into Redcar.