Parking changes in Durham “made workers fear for their safety”

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Safety fears may have scared some traders away, following a change in parking assignments in Durham, a market boss said.

Market workers were previously able to park in the former Sands coach park, which Durham County Council closed during construction of its new £ 50million head office on the river.

But according to Colin Wilkes, general manager of the city’s historic Market Hall, the loss of this provision has been worrying for workers.

“At the moment we have an agreement with the Council, where we have 10 spaces allocated to Providence Row which are available for traders,” he said.

“They are reserved for [market traders] and then they just pay the usual parking fees to park there, which is good.

“It worked out of necessity – it had to work.

“We have lost a number of our traders who drive the large vans because they are afraid to go back there, especially on darker evenings, as they tend to take their cash with them – this is a a little further and a little less well lit.

Wilkes was speaking at yesterday’s public inquiry (Wednesday, May 12) into the county council’s attempts to strip the former coach parking site of its protected “common land” status.

It is intended to eventually become a car park for the new town hall offices currently under construction.

While opposing the loss of coach parking, Wilkes, who was appointed MBE on the Queen’s birthday last year (2020) for independent business services, admitted that ‘He was unlikely to be reinstated, even if the council’s request is granted.

However, he also supports the headquarters’s wider plans, which he says will lead to greater footfall in the city center.

But he described the council’s claims that this would be further increased by converting the local authority’s current Aykley Heads base to an office park like a ‘red herring’.

The inquest, which heard that denying the claim could cost County Council more than £ 60,000, spent five days hearing testimony, with two more expected to take place.


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