Another County Durham business owner has hit out at new council parking charges which will soon see drivers fork out £3 to park in the seaside town all day.

For 12 years, Leah Rawling has operated Hair @ No.4 on North Terrace in Seaham, but now feels her livelihood is under threat because Durham County Council's new parking charges will be put in place in just a week's time.

The scheme was voted through by the council despite thousands of objections in February and from April 15, seven car parks will be subject to the charges.

The Northern Echo: Leah Rawling.Leah Rawling. (Image: LEAH RAWLING)

These are:

  • Seaham Hall Beach 
  • Vane Tempest
  • Terrace Green
  • Seaham Marina
  • Dock Top
  • Noses Point 
  • Crimdon Beach

The council has explained that the charges are to bring the coastal town "in line" with others in the North East, adding that it will help reduce congestion and pollution.

But, for business owners like Leah the impact new charges could have on not just her profits but her staff too is of great concern.

Leah said: "Ever since lockdown, it’s been a slight struggle with the cost of everything going up. Our utilities and product prices are going up and now we are being hit with car parking charges.

"To come to work every day and park for a month it will cost £60, which is a lot when you are self-employed. But, we have had a lot of feedback from our customers some saying they can’t afford the extra on top of hair or they can’t walk any further away if they were to park where there no parking signs.

The Northern Echo: Measures introduced in Seaham for the new parking charges.Measures introduced in Seaham for the new parking charges. (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

"Some customers come twice a week for hair blow-drying services, and this would be £6 extra per week on top of their bill, so what can we do?"

Other businesses including the North Beach Coffee Bar have expressed their dissatisfaction with the scheme, calling it a "worrying" prospect for the longevity of small businesses.

Leah shares these concerns and has decided to boycott the car parks with charges - and is urging others to do the same.

She said: "We have local butchers, carpet shops, pet stores, cafes and the local Friday market which gets busy. There will also be no permit help or discs, and I don't believe the money will be going into Seaham town.

"I will not be using the pay car parks and will be asking clients to follow suit as well as staff members.

"The traffic chaos around Seaham is going to be horrendous - I can’t think what it will be like on carnival food festival and fireworks night."

As for the future and what comes after the charges are introduced, Leah hopes businesses will continue to thrive and Seaham won't become a "ghost town".

She said: "Seaham is a coastal town which is booming. We have visitors from all over and we also have a lot of new residents to the area who have moved here from across the country.

"I really do hope this pay-for-parking does not affect people coming to the area and it won’t turn into a ghost town."

The Northern Echo: Measures introduced in Seaham for the new parking charges.Measures introduced in Seaham for the new parking charges. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Mark Jackson, Durham County Council’s head of transport and contract services, has previously said: "The introduction of parking charges in six car parks on Seaham seafront will bring it into line with the rest of the car parks along the North East’s coast, where charges are already in place.


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"The charges, which will apply to all, will be £1 for up to one hour, or £3 to park all day. There will still be free car parking in numerous other car parks around Seaham town centre, all of which are a short walk from the seafront.

"Parking charges are widely used to control parking availability and support the commercial viability of town centres and attractions by increasing turnover of spaces in areas where there is high demand.

"They improve parking availability for residents and visitors, and in turn, increase the number of people coming into communities and spending money. They also help lower emissions and improve local air quality."