LOCALS living in a pretty seaside town say it’s being ruined by ridiculous parking rules and loads of tourists.
A Northumberland beach was named one of the best in the UK by The Times in 2022 but now parking charges have been proposed at the beauty spot.
Howick Estates owns the land where Howdiemont and Sugar Sands are located near Longhoughton and wants to bring in charges at the car park which is next to the dunes.
At present, there is an honesty box in place on Lowsteads Farm where drivers can make a donation
A Boulmer, Howick and Longhoughton community letter was sent out earlier this month where the chief of Howick Trustees, David Baring, compared the parking on the dunes as being “like the wild west”.
He added that people trying to camp there on a regular basis was destroying the habitat.
The charity has announced plans to bring in a parking charge for day visitors, while offering locals the opportunity to buy season tickets.
One resident though has hit out at the proposed £25 fee for an annual season ticket, calling it “unfair”.
Former school caretaker, Josh Lane, who has lived in Longhoughton for 37 years, told the ChronicleLive: “The issue of it all would have been sorted if they’d said local residents will be given a permit for free.
“I know it’s only £25 for the year, but not everyone can afford the permit. And a lot of the time, pensioners are taken down by members of their family because they can’t walk down.”
The 54-year-old added that he loves going fishing in the area but said it was a long walk from the village and said it was draining walking that distance with all his fishing gear.
Josh said: “I don’t see why we should be punished in doing something I do for my mental health because of tourism. I’m not against tourism, don’t get me wrong, but there’s not the infrastructure in these small villages to have as many people coming.”
He suggested the scheme operated in nearby Alnmouth should be adopted – where locals in Alnmouth, Lesbury and Hipsburn can get permits and parking for free.
Josh also worried that if parking charges were introduced it would mean people just parked elsewhere, where they didn’t have t pay.
He added that people would probably park along the verge going down to the beach which would block the road and make it tricky for cars to pass each other and that there could be a serious problem if there was an emergency.
Howick Estates is currently working with Longhoughton Parish Council on a consultation with the early proposal being that a “modest” fee be brought in of £3.50 per day or a season ticket costing £25.
Howick Estates say the charges will allow them to employ a team of people to manage the area as well as provide additional services to tell visitors about the coast and any surplus money raised would be put to use for their charitable objectives of heritage, environment and education.
Mr Baring wrote in the newsletter: “The dunes running from Burnmouth south are part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and need to be managed and preserved.”
He added: “Management of the area has relied on the goodwill of a few individuals voluntarily going down to open and close the gate and moving try-it-on campers off the site. This is not sustainable in the long-term.”
Iain Robson, from the Northumberland Coast AONB, said it was generally supportive of the parking charge.
He said: “The increase in demand for parking at this location in recent years has impacted negatively on the coastal grassland habitats and on the landscape, the recent placement of stones to limit where people can park has made a huge difference to the grasslands, which are now full of wildflowers.
“Making a small charge fits for parking here with much of the rationale behind our Visitor Travel Strategy.
“Parking tariffs on the coast need to reflect a demand management approach and be comparable to the costs of public transport if we are to encourage visitors out of their cars.
“The strategy also proposes that some revenue can be used to enhance the visitor offer, which we think the proposal at Longhoughton does.
“The longer-term strategy proposes that some car parking revenue should support enhanced bus services to enable visitors to have choice in how they access destinations.”
Elsewhere, fury has broken out after a council changed the rules over how to pay for parking.
There was some good news for drivers earlier this month as millions could be due a refund following a landmark penalty charge ruling.
Locals have claimed their seaside village will become a ghost town thanks to their council’s proposed parking rules.