Seaham Harbour businesses say new parking charges have 'taken away heartbeat' of marina

  • Kris Jepson speaks to worried business owners at Seaham Harbour

Business owners based at Seaham Harbour Marina say they are worried for the future, after the introduction of parking charges causes a significant drop in footfall.

Speaking to ITV Tyne Tees, one owner claimed the charges have taken "the heartbeat out of the place".

Ann Stewart, owner of Seaside Chic, says her profits are down by £2,100 this month, compared to May 2023, which has left her having "sleepless nights" over concern she will lose her business.

The new charges, introduced by Durham County Council last month, apply to drivers Monday to Sunday, between 8.00am to 6.00pm. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

She said: "It’s decimated all the businesses completely. There’s no footfall. There’s no swimmers coming down, who were really good customers of all of us.

"There’s no dog walkers coming. There’s no fishermen coming. So basically, you’re halving your takings."

She said the introduction of charges has left her feeling ignored and "angry", adding: "I'm very angry, frustrated, not sleeping. Thinking I’ve been here eight years. Am I going to lose my business? And I don’t want to. I love it here."

In response, Durham County Council say there are other free car parking sites in the town centre, which is close to the harbour.

Seaham Harbour businesses say they are struggling with low footfall. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees.

Mark Jackson, Durham County Council’s head of transport and contract services, said: "The new charges are limited to six locations and people can still park for free in numerous other sites around Seaham town centre, all of which are a short distance from the sea front.

"Our teams have been working in Seaham since the charges came in, looking out for any parking and traffic issues which may arise, and will continue to make regular visits."

The new charges, introduced by Durham County Council a month ago, are £1 for one hour and anything above one hour is £3, Monday to Sunday, between 8.00am to 6.00pm.

Businesses claim the charges are impacting on families who are struggling with the cost of living and disabled people who cannot access the site without parking their cars there.

Drivers are now charged to park at Seaham Harbour. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Sharon Clark, owner of Nicey Icey Ice Cream Parlour, has been forced to warn staff their jobs may not be secure.

She said: "Mental health, through the roof. Staff asking everyday if their jobs are safe. My answer, ‘no they’re not’. I can’t lie to them, so my plan is to get through the summer, and after the summer, no idea.

"It’s heartbreaking. They’ve built Seaham up so much, the amount what they’ve spent on it, and then within a month they’ve just took the heartbeat out the place."

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