THE county council is clamping down on people who use all-day parking bays in Hexham.

As part of a £10m investment to improve parking across the county, Northumberland County Council has changed the terms of the long stay bays at the town’s Wentworth car park to 24 hours only.

The changes were announced as part of the council’s policy to make widespread changes to parking, which includes 250 additional public parking spaces at the former Bunker site in Hexham, as well as the removal of the coach and HGV parking at the Wentworth to make way for further parking bays.

It was agreed to change the long stay bays, distinguished by white lines in the Wentworth car park, after it came to the council’s attention that many people would park up and leave their vehicle in the same spot for days, sometimes even weeks, on end.

A spokesman for the county council said: “As part of our £10m investment to improve parking across the county, we introduced changes to our long stay car parks, which came into effect at the start of December.

“These changes are one of the measures included in the parking action plan for Hexham that was agreed with Hexham Town Council following a comprehensive consultation process earlier this year.

“The changes are in response to feedback that some of the long stay parking bays were being used inappropriately by people who were ‘garaging’ their vehicles in the spaces for days and weeks on end.

“The changes mean that the maximum duration that a vehicle can now be parked in a long stay bay is 24 hours, after which time the vehicle must be moved and cannot return within a four hour period.

“This should help free up some of the longer stay bays that are in high demand in our town centres, and will benefit those people who work in the town or wish to visit for the whole day and need to travel in by car.”

In addition to the long stay changes, and additional bays created in Hexham, further communities in Tynedale are set to benefit from the council’s investment in parking.

In Corbridge, work is progressing to extend the long stay car park on the south side of the bridge. Additional parking bays for Hill Street and Main Street have been identified too, with two other sites earmarked.

However, there has been uproar at plans to introduce parking charges at Haltwhistle and Prudhoe railway stations, as well as at Prudhoe’s Riverside Country Park to help pay for the scheme.