Outrage as drivers leave cars in Hexham park

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RESIDENTS who live on the edge of Hexham’s Sele have been accused of desecrating the treasured parkland by using it as an ad hoc car park.

In the past they have been given access to the rear of the houses – which back on to the park – for bulky deliveries, but some residents and their visitors are now parking there on a regular basis.

Now retired headteacher and respected historian Dr Stan Beckensall, who lives nearby, has said ‘enough is enough’.

“Our lovely open spaces need to be kept free from vehicles,” he said.

“But almost every day for many months, cars have entered the Sele via the Selegate car park (on Hencotes) and not only parked on the grass, but driven in wide arcs, leaving clear depressions of their tyres behind.

“I have reported car numbers to the police, as I know that the Sele belongs to the town of Hexham and is only opened up for particular occasions, such as bonfire night, by special consent, but I don’t know what they’re going to do about it.”

What he describes as illegal parking is the result of a lack of policy by County Hall, he said. Several years ago, a row of cast-iron bollards were installed to keep motorists off the Sele, but they were removed and thrown into bushes nearby.

They were replaced by a large iron barrier that, in theory, should have prevented entry via the privately-owned car park at Selegate.

Dr Beckensall said: “Quite recently a Northumberland County Council workforce erected a new barrier (at some expense) and it looked as though someone was tackling the problem at last.

“But idiotically the barrier was fastened by chain and locked in the open position, which did the opposite – it seemed to invite cars to enter. Since then, someone has removed those fittings anyway.”

Dr Beckensall said drivers who weren’t customers of the business that owned the car park were taking up spaces there, encouraging genuine customers to then park on the stretch of the Sele behind the premises.

And he added that residents and their visitors were also driving up the footpath to the top corner of the Sele, behind the Fox pub, and parking on the grass which was now churned up.

One woman walking through the park told the Courant that she had seen two or three cars at a time parked there at one time.

Two people also commented on the laminated passes displayed in some of the cars’ front windows. “They looked like official passes until you looked closer,” one said.

“But one of them actually said ‘we’re visiting a house on Seal Terrace, come and knock if you have a problem with us being here’, or words to that effect.”

Northumberland County Council has been asked for a statement on the matter.

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