It has been two weeks since parking charges were introduced along the County Durham coastline - but how has it been working out so far? Kayleigh Fraser asked residents their thoughts.

Motorists visiting seven car parks in Seaham and down the coast have for the last two weeks been forking out £1 an hour or £3 all day to park from 8am-6pm.

Car parking charges were introduced across seven Seaham car parks on April 15 following a motion in February by Durham County Council to bring the town "in line" with others and charge to park.

The Northern Echo: Seaham sea front.Seaham sea front. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Despite thousands of objections and concerns about the impact the charges could have on the town, they were voted through and machine installation took place in early April.

Two weeks into the new measures, we spoke to residents along the seafront to see how the charges are working - and whether they believe it's had an impact on the town.

Lesley Knight was one pedestrian by the iconic Tommy statue who spoke about the impact the charges could have on local businesses.

She said: "It is hard to say at this stage what the full impact is but it is quieter than it normally is. All of these businesses along the seafront are here and the charges could chase people away."

Another resident, who wished not to be named, said: "It's a huge shame because Seaham is a great place to visit and I worry this will stop people coming down."

Hilary and David Fielding, who were walking along the seafront with their pup, said they have noticed a huge difference in traffic almost immediately.

Gesturing over to the Terrace Green Car park, the couple said: "There are fewer cars now - when the parking charges weren't there these used to be full."

Yasmin Brown explained she parked purposely in an area where charges haven't been introduced to avoid paying.

She said: "These businesses will be wanting to get customers in. The people of Seaham, the people who live here, why should they have to pay these charges?

The Northern Echo: Seaham sea front.Seaham sea front. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

"That will be what drives people out, the fact they have to pay for parking."

Yasmin also expressed concern that residential streets further up the town, which do not charge to park, may also be affected as residents will have nowhere to park themselves.

Carl Thompson, owner of popular ice creamery Lickety Split, said it is hard to see the full impact the charges have had just two weeks in.

He said: "It is hard to tell the full impact of it right now, but we have never noticed the car parks so empty during the week.

"People sometimes just come in for a coffee and sit inside but now they will just go elsewhere."

Carl added that in summer, people will not mind about paying the charges - but in winter businesses like his could see fewer people, particularly locals, coming through the door.

For others, like Sean Golightly, the parking charges have already hit hard.

Sean took over North Beach Coffee Bar which sits inside Seaham Hall car park in 2021 and has since invested over £150,000 into the business.

Since the charges have been introduced, Sean has seen reduced footfall which has "dropped off a cliff" and has lost four of his staff this week alone.

He said: "I shouldn't have to run a business where the council impacts it like this. I have spoken up about the charges and will continually speak up about it because I have to."


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Sean added that he has had meetings with Peter Broxton of the council's transport team but claims they "didn't really care" about what he had to say and were altogether "a farce".

Kieron Moralee, Durham County Council’s traffic management section manager, said: “The new charges are limited to six coastal car parks and people can still park for free in numerous other sites around Seaham town centre, all of which are a short distance from the sea front.

“Our teams have been working in Seaham since the charges came in, looking out for any parking and traffic issues which may arise, and will continue to make regular visits.”