MORE than £32,000 was raked in by Northumberland County Council last year through parking fines at Hexham’s main car park.

A recent freedom of information request revealed there was a total of 1,376 parking charge notices dispensed at the Wentworth car park during 2018.

There were 702 fines dished out to people parking in the short-stay red bays, with a time restriction of two hours, while 674 were handed out to people staying over the four-hour time limit in the medium-stay, blue bays. The charges combined meant that the Wentworth was second in the list of car parks for enforcement penalties, behind Morpeth’s Stanley Terrace North car park with 1,675 notices.

Pauline Holt worked in Hexham for five years until late last year and fell foul of the restrictions multiple times, at a cost of in excess of £200.

She said: “As a worker in the town centre, there is nowhere that people can park for the full day and the parking system penalises the workers. As I was in and out of the office throughout the day, I would look to park in the blue or red bays but then I would often forget about the restrictions or meetings would overrun and I would return to a parking ticket. It was a contributory factor to seeking work elsewhere.”

Alan Eason, of Chester-le-Street, used to visit Hexham often on day trips but the parking system has deterred him.

He explained: “Last time I came to Hexham, I drove around the Wentworth car park for almost an hour, but couldn’t find a parking space in the blue or white bays, so I gave up and went home.

“I decided then I wouldn’t return to Hexham.”

A spokeswoman from Northumberland County Council said: “Hexham’s car parking strategy aims to provide a local solution that best meets the needs of businesses, residents and visitors.

“It has been set in consultation with the town and parish councils and is enforced by the county council.

“The Wentworth car park consists of a mixture of longer and shorter stay time limits and like any car park, it has to be managed to ensure people are complying with the time restrictions and parking within the bays.

“In managing that, it is only appropriate that those who do not comply with the regulations run the risk of being issued with a penalty charge notice.

“It should also be noted that the Wentworth car park is a large car park and is therefore likely to have more penalty charge notices issued than other smaller car parks.”