BUSINESS leaders have called for a parking rethink to boost trade in a town centre.
Spaces outside Caroline House, in Seaham, will be available once demolition work on the former council building and neighbouring library is complete, after services were transferred to the new Seaham Contact Centre.
However, Durham County Council says the extra parking spots may not be permanent, as the plot could be bought by a developer once the market picks up.
The additional spaces have been welcomed by community chiefs, but they say a long-term solution for parking woes is needed.
They have suggested land between North Railway Street and South Railway Street is turned into a car park, although the council has said the cost would be prohibitive and has also earmarked part of it for development as a park.
Changes have been proposed for two-hour parking in Adelaide Row, Church Street, near to St John’s Church, Blandford Place and South Railway Street.
This would replace loading only and one-hour bays, which sparked complaints from shoppers and businesses, who say Adelaide Row has been turned into a “ghost town”.
Consultation on the amended rules is to close on Thursday, May 24.
Gary Hepple, chairman of Seaham Business Forum, said: “It’s sad when we’ve got this economic downturn that people are being kept away from our high street.
“We should be encouraging people in, not ticketing shoppers and shop workers.
“We would ask for a common sense attitude.
“I got a parking ticket in Scarborough 20 years ago and I’ve never been back.
“It’s the kind of thing which is detrimental, debilitating and disgraceful for our businesses.”
Tony Forster, the council’s strategic project manager, said: “The Caroline House car park will be reinstated once demolition work is complete and the rest of site occupied by the building and the old library will be landscaped.
“We are aware of concerns regarding the provision of parking within the town centre, but we are not looking at creating further parking spaces on this site.
“As we will be looking to sell or facilitate the development of the land in the future, this would be an extra expense for a facility that may only be temporary.
“It would also mean a burden on any future buyer to maintain the parking provision.
“We will, however, be reviewing and monitoring existing parking arrangements in and around the town centre in the coming months.”
Demolition work on the old buildings will be complete early next month, with landscaping due to take place between July and October.