A County Durham seafront café claims they have been left with no choice but to find a nighttime operator after newly introduced parking charges have caused a drop off in trade.

Sean Golightly, 53, took over North Beach Coffee Bar in Seaham in March of 2021 - and has built up a loyal customer base and reputation for drinks, lunch and sweet treats.

However, Sean and his staff say they have faced difficulties since Durham County Council introduced parking charges in April - which have taken a toll on their business.

The Northern Echo: North Beach Coffee Bar, Seaham.North Beach Coffee Bar, Seaham. (Image: NORTH BEACH COFFEE BAR)

The new charges mean that it costs visitors £3 to park all day or £1 an hour in six car parks along the seafront, leaving Sean no choice but to expand his business to open at night to cover lost revenue.

“We have just had to pivot as a business because of the parking charges. We have had a drop off in custom because of it,” Sean said. 

“This drop-off has forced us to look at the business model and extend what we do. The idea is to bring in existing businesses and operators, maybe a high-end food provider.

“They would then open in here on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night to bring something different to Seaham.”

The Northern Echo: North Beach Coffee Bar, Seaham.North Beach Coffee Bar, Seaham. (Image: NORTH BEACH COFFEE BAR)

Sean explained that the café will continue to open during the day, but after hours and clean down the second business will move in and open for the evening.

So far, Sean has had some responses but the operator has not yet been chosen.

Whilst there is some positivity about the expansion, Sean believes the introduction of parking charges has "forced his hand", but believes it would work for the better.

He added: “This is something we have had to look at because of the parking, but in adverse situations sometimes something positive can come out of it.


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“I'm thinking about making a positive out of a negative.”

Despite thousands of objections, the parking charges were approved in February by the council to bring the area "in line" with other coastal destinations in the region.

Seaham Hall Beach, Vane Tempest, Terrace Green, Seaham Marina, Dock Top and Noses Point have charges.

Mark Jackson, Durham County Council’s head of transport and contract services, said: “The new charges are limited to seven locations 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.”