'People are not going to risk a pounds 60 ticket just for a sandwich' Zero tolerance approach from wardens hitting traders hard.
ANGRY traders say their businesses are being badly hit by a shift in local parking policy. Motorists who have parked unpunished on the yellow line outside shops at Hencotes, Hexham, for years are now getting expensive parking tickets.
A new team of traffic wardens is operating a zero-tolerance approach, and motorists are abandoning their traditional quick stop on the road into the town centre from the west.
By September, new 20-minute free parking bays are due to be installed on Hencotes.
But a plea to waive the parking enforcement rules until then was firmly refused by county highways chiefs.
The impasse has left DELIcious sandwich shop owner Mary Oswell fuming - and counting her losses.
She said: "I'm going to lose my business as well as my friends.
"The business is dropping off at an alarming rate because of this. I feel I provide a service and employ local young people but trade is down about 15%.
"People are not going to risk a pounds 60 ticket for a sandwich. I was making an egg mayonnaise sandwich for a customer one day, which is a two-minute job, but she went outside to find a parking ticket on her car.
"There have been conventions in Hencotes for a long time, in that everyone parks on the north side to avoid congestion.
"We are getting parking bays put in on the street mid-September - so why can't they leave it alone until then?" Local councillor Terry Robson asked Northumberland head of sustainable transport Mike Scott for leniency over parking on Hencotes.
"I was given a firm 'no', and I have to accept that," said Coun Robson, a former Hexham town mayor.
"Unfortunately, this is putting the businesses at risk - the shops feel they are losing their customers.
"And my big worry is that the loss of any of the shops will have a knock-on affect in a finely-balanced economy.
"They all employ local people, and they all pay their rates.
"I asked the council to suspend the traffic orders until mid-September, when the new parking bays are put in, but they would not do it."
A spokesman for Northumberland County Council told The Journal: "Whilst it has been confirmed that new parking bays will be installed on Hencotes in September, until they are installed motorists will need to comply with the restrictions as they currently stand.
"The council has a responsibility to enforce the current traffic regulation order in place and, as such, if there is no loading or unloading taking place from a vehicle then enforcement action may be taken."
Rod Glenn, owner of The Computer Shop on Hencotes, said: "I think the term is 'over-zealous', to say the least.
"There are two traffic wardens hanging around most of the time and pouncing on everybody.
"They are putting customers off - all they had to do was wait until all the new bays are put in in mid-September.
"It's easy money for them, but my customers are just going elsewhere."
DRAWING A LINE Rod Glenn, owner of The Computer Shop on Hencotes, Hexham, said of the traffic wardens: "I think the term is 'over-zealous', to say the least. They are pouncing on everybody"