Row after LNER ticket machines appear in car park at former Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Museum
Rail bosses installed parking machines at a free Durham car park without getting permission from county chiefs.
There are currently no charges for drivers at the site of the former Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Museum, between Durham Railway Station and County Hall.
But with spaces for train travellers at the station reduced due to work on its own car park, managers at the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) gave the green light for the meters to be set up before they had finished negotiations with Durham County Council over a possible deal.
“LNER can do almost anything they want, but what they cannot do is put parking meters on council land without permission,” said Liberal Democrat opposition councillor Mark Wilkes.
“You’ve got a raft of issues about congestion and pollution, but also with people who cannot park anywhere near the station because the car park is full.
“The vast majority of the public do not believe the DLI should have been closed, but nor do we want a building sat empty or a car park not being used.”
The parking machines were installed in 2019, but remain wrapped in plastic sheeting and are not believed to have been switched on so far.
The DLI museum shut in 2016, but its car park has remained open to the public to use for free at set times of day, with barriers keeping vehicles off the site at other times.
Both the DLI site and the railway station’s long stay car park are accessed from the A691 Framwellgate Peth.
The long stay car park has been partially closed since November 2019 when work started to add 135 extra parking spaces.
Susan Robinson, head of corporate property and land at Durham County Council, said: “LNER is expanding its car park at Durham Railway Station, which has required the train operator to temporarily reduce the number of parking spaces available at the site.
“We are working with LNER to identify alternative provision and to promote other parking options to their customers.”
A spokesperson for LNER said: “Temporary parking meters were placed at the former DLI car park as we held discussions with Durham County Council on the short-term use of the car park.
“We continue to work with Durham County Council to advise our customers of alternative car parks in the city while work takes place to create an additional 135 spaces at Durham station.”