Email to about the proposed Traffic Management Orders relating to Crimdon Dene and Seaham

To Whom It May Concern,

Subject: Response to Traffic Management Order

I am writing to express my opposition to the implementation of car parking charges at Crimdon Dene, Seaham, and East Shore Village. These charges have not been discussed with or sought from elected representatives in East Durham. I am unaware of any support for these proposals from Parish or Town Councils, County Councillors, Community Councillors, or the broader public.

In the absence of local demand, these proposals are seen as a money grab by Durham County Council to cover budget shortfalls rather than a measure to support the local economy, the community, or traffic management.

As a Member of Parliament, I have consistently raised concerns about traffic issues in and around O’Neill Drive and Peterlee Hospital which impacts on the local community. Unfortunately, there has been limited action from Durham County Council, which now seems to be due to your inability to generate revenue from addressing these concerns.

I am concerned that, instead of using traffic management orders to address local issues, Durham County Council is using them to plug financial failings, irrespective of any problems they create or harm to the local economy.

Displacement of vehicles is a significant concern. The introduction of parking charges will lead to visitors parking on residential streets or occupying free parking spaces meant for businesses like Aldi, Asda, and the Byron Shopping Centre. This would exacerbate traffic issues as visitors first check these sites for available free parking, unlike the current situation where visitors park in the most convenient location depending on the purpose of their visit.

During busy times, it’s common for people to use residential streets like Dene House Road and Hawthorn Square for parking. The introduction of charges will make this behaviour an everyday occurrence in order to avoid parking charges.

I am pleased that Crimdon Dene and Seaham are increasingly popular destinations, primarily for local visitors within County Durham. The absence of parking charges and easy access to the coastline make these areas appealing. Imposing charges will eliminate the incentive for local visitors to choose Seaham and Crimdon Dene over neighbouring spots like Roker, Seaburn, and Seaton Carew. While this may raise revenues for Durham County Council, it will come at the expense of local businesses.

Visitors to the East Durham Coastline often resort to driving due to the lack of frequent and reliable public transport options. Rather than penalising these individuals, improving public transport would enhance traffic management across all communities.

Unfortunately, private operators Arriva and Go North East have failed to provide effective public transport, despite receiving Durham County Council subsidies. These failing services damage the local economy, employment and the community. Durham County Council should take a more robust approach in relation to delivering public transport rather than imposing charges on those wanting to visit our community.

The local business community has shown great resilience amidst the challenges posed by COVID, the government’s economic downturn, and a cost-of-living crisis. It is surprising that the Department of Regeneration, Economy, and Growth at Durham County Council would propose a traffic management order that could harm local businesses, the economy and growth. The various parking options in Seaham cater to the diverse needs of visitors, and the introduction of parking charges is an unnecessary disruption to traffic management and the local economy.

Many businesses along the seafront benefit from short-stay visitors, especially during quieter trading times. Feedback suggests that parking charges would discourage casual visits, leading people to visit Seaham only for specific reasons. The revenue gains for Durham County Council would come at the expense of lost business revenues, potential closures and a fall in business rate revenues.

These charges contradict the goals of a department with the remit of Regeneration, Economy, and Growth at Durham County Council.

The parking challenges at Crimdon Dene have arisen due to the popularity of the Dunes Café. Rather than resorting to parking charges to curb demand, Durham County Council should seize the opportunity to build on this success by implementing development projects and proposals that will draw even more people to our region.

It’s expected that there will be some level of displacement, where drivers might opt to use highway spaces for parking, and others may choose not to visit at all.

Durham County Council should explore ways to expand or establish additional parking facilities, rather than implementing measures that could restrict and hinder the number of visitors to the area.

The East Durham Coastline stands out as the only area on the North East coast that offers free parking. Instead of viewing this as a disadvantage or a potential source of revenue, Durham County Council should leverage this unique feature to promote the area and encourage more visitors.

I acknowledge the financial failings of Durham County Council. However, the most effective strategy is to take proactive steps to boost the local economy, making our communities the most appealing destinations in the North East for both visitors and businesses, raising revenues through new business rate receipts.

Attempting to extract every last penny from the community through ill-conceived parking charges is a counterproductive approach that undermines the long-term success of our local economy.

In conclusion, I have serious concerns about the management of Durham County Council, particularly the Department for Regeneration, Economy, and Growth. These traffic management orders lack support from local elected representatives and the wider community. They appear to be motivated by financial concerns rather than genuine traffic management needs.

The department should focus on delivering positive change and investment within our community, addressing issues like public transport and supporting the local economy. There should be a clear plan for growing the coastline economy and creating employment opportunities.

Our communities seek support from Durham County Council to address various concerns, and it is frustrating to see time and effort devoted to proposals that lack community support. The public deserves accountability for these proposals and should be informed who initiated them.

I oppose the imposition of parking charges, which, if implemented, would affect our communities without their consent or the support of elected representatives in East Durham.

Kind regards,

Grahame Morris MP
Representing Easington constituency

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