Members of the public had the chance to have their say on new parking measures set to be installed in multiple Newton Aycliffe car parks that would see motorists fined after two hours.

Just four members of the public attended the full council meeting at Great Aycliffe Town Council on January 31 which included an agenda point on the new two-hour limit set to be enforced in three privately owned town centre car parks.

The Central Avenue, Greenwell Road (to the rear of the shops) and the Leisure Centre car parks will be subject to the two-hour limit which will be monitored by ANPR cameras. Motorists who exceed this limit will now be subject to a £100 penalty. 

No representative from the town centre attended the meeting despite an invite but in a previous statement provided to the council, bosses emphasised the cameras are instead a way of "encouraging" shoppers to the town.

They said: "The ANPR cameras are a way of encouraging more shoppers and customers to come to the centre.

"We are regularly getting customers into the office who say they are struggling to find a car parking space. We are aware that a significant number of spaces are taken up by local workers parking in the space all day and therefore blocking a customer space.

"Aycliffe is lucky the landlord does not charge for car parking. The majority of town centre car parks around the country are pay and display whether they are privately or council-owned.

"These charges are likely to be implemented at the end of January."

Opening the agenda point, Cllr Arun Chandran emphasised the council has "no authority" over the land.

He said: "I felt it important that this council represented the concerns of the residents, shoppers and employees. We as a council do not have any particular authority or powers to intervene.

"There is very limited influence that the council has over the car parking situation, and we can only listen and feed back any questions and concerns of residents and councillors to the town centre management."

The Northern Echo: Central Avenue car park.Central Avenue car park. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Multiple other councillors then joined into the open discussion, with a suggestion from Cllr Ken Robson to provide a statement to bosses.

He said: "This council could make a statement to the town centre management. At least we could make our feelings known."

Cllr Eddy Adam then joined the debate, questioning the level of anger members of the public had over the plans considering the low turnout.

He said: "I am disappointed that we only have four members of the public here tonight, and I am beginning to wonder whether there is any furore from residents.

"We may see things come up on Facebook now and then but I have certainly not seen a huge number of people who are voicing these concerns.

"But, what consultation happened between the centre management, shops and residents? What impact is this going to have?"

Cllr Collinson added: "I want to add how annoying it is that representatives cannot even be bothered to come to the meeting, and me, that is a huge disrespect to the council.

"They couldn't care less."

Later in the meeting, Cllr Chandran mentioned a "failed levelling up bid" which he said would have "dealt with the issue of the multi-storey car park" on Central Avenue which is currently disused.

The Northern Echo: Leisure centre car park.Leisure centre car park. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

This refers to round two of the levelling up fund, made up of £1.6 billion. 

An application for Newton Aycliffe detailed plans for town centre land and buildings to be repurposed to provide improved flexible space and a public transport interchange.

However, this bid as well as bids from Horden, Stanley, Durham City and North West Durham all failed.

Before councillors yielded for public questions, Durham County Councillor Neville Jones stated the new measures are a "farce".

He said: "(The management) are running the town centre into the ground. They don't even have the decency to send anybody here tonight.

"It's a farce. The people who will struggle the most are those who work in the town centre. If they have an eight-hour shift where are they going to park? They will flood the streets making it worse for other residents."


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Vince Crosby was the one member of the public who read a statement to the council.

"Newton Aycliffe has had a problem with parking for a long time. It stems back to the 1946 New Towns Act. Out of the 32 new towns built in this country, only one was designated to be a town for the car.

"Newton Aycliffe was to be a garden village and was not made for the car. My concern, and the concerns of the people who contacted me are for the people who work in the town."

The Northern Echo has previously approached the town centre management with questions on the new parking measures but did not receive a response.