I am writing in response to the letter by J Walsh, from Blyth, about car parking charges during the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta (News Post Leader, July 21).
I would like to clarify a few issues raised in the letter.
This exciting event – the largest the county has ever seen – is expected to attract 500,000 visitors over the weekend.
While the council removed car parking charges from council car parks in 2013, we feel that Blyth could not cater for that many people in cars so we have put in place a thorough traffic management plan.
The plan involves creating two large park-and-ride car parks outside of the town. We also want to help Blyth residents and businesses as much as possible to enable them to go about their daily business.
There is no event parking in the town itself, apart from blue badge parking, which, contrary to what the writer says, is actually free.
However, in order to manage parking effectively we advise both residents and visitors to book in advance.
While we are encouraging people to use public transport where possible to get to the event, we understand that many people will want to come to the regatta by car. The park-and-ride car parks, south and north, are both large, secure car parks, with regular shuttle buses that will take visitors to the heart of the event and help to ease congestion.
There is a cost to the council for creating and managing these car parks and a small parking charge will help towards meeting the costs.
We think that £5, plus 50p booking fee, is an excellent discount and reasonable for anyone pre-booking a park-and-ride or park-and-walk space. This rate is available up until the night before the event, after which parking will be charged at the increased rate. This, we feel will encourage people to pre-book and assist in the traffic management for the event.
The Tall Ships is a fantastic event and will provide four days of free entertainment, which will benefit our local residents and businesses, as well as encourage visitors from across the region, country and world to come and see what great places Blyth and Northumberland are. It is also expected to generate up to £8million for our local economy, something I am sure residents would welcome.
The council is facing £58million of government cuts over the next four years and we are trying to offset the cost to protect frontline services for our residents.
To book your park-and-ride tickets to the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta Blyth, visit our tall ships website or go to Ticketline at www.ticketline.co.uk/north-sea-tall-ships-regatta-park-and-ride#bio
Councillor Val Tyler
Cabinet member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, Northumberland County Council