Should parking charges be introduced on Demesnes?
By Trevor Brookes - Editor
A PROPOSAL to charge people to park on the lower Demesnes has been put forward as a way of managing vehicle access.
Police fear a traveller encampment on the lower Demesnes, in Barnard Castle, in the coming weeks and want the swing gate to be locked. There are concerns it could rival the last illegal camp on the beauty spot which caused significant problems in the community in 2007. There have also been long-standing concerns about damage caused by young people in cars.
However, the area is popular with less mobile residents and the disabled who park up and enjoy picnics and the scenery. Negotiations have been ongoing with residents about how the gate could be locked with people living in the cottages down the track asking for an automatic barrier operated by a smartphone app.
Members of Barnard Castle Town Council debated the issue last week when Cllr Chris Foote-Wood put forward an alternative suggestion. Cllr Foote-Wood said: “The Demesnes is a fantastic benefit to the area and visitors. It's a wonderful asset to the town. How do we resolve this?
“A lot of people like to drive their cars on to the Demesnes to picnic and I'm one of them – my wife is disabled and can't walk very far. It gives her great pleasure. An organisation of volunteers could man the gates at certain times when it's popular to go. They could manage security. We might have a small parking charge to go on the Demesnes during that time – that could pay for the time of volunteers or the organisation doing it. But the rest of the time, the gates would remain locked.”
Cllr Laura Drew said the council must look at whether it had the right to charge people under the terms of the lease before considering the option. The parish clerk, Martin Clark, agreed to find out.
Cllr Jan Thompson suggested a security camera but mayor Cllr Rima Chatterjee was worried this would be too expensive. However, Cllr Thompson said a solar-powered CCTV system would cost about £200. Cllr Mike Mclean asked if those caught on camera would care either way. Mr Clark stressed the need to find a solution quickly.
He said: “Some travellers have turned up at Brommielaw and have been give notice to move on. The police are concerned they will come down to this area.”
Appleby Fair is due to take place in August this but the police are worried there might also be a June migration through Teesdale – the traditional time for this to happen.
Mr Clark also said there was also the possibility of a legal challenge to prevent the fair taking place in Appleby in August.
“That’s why the police are asking for us to be cautious,” he said. Earlier in the meeting, former mayor John Blissett warned of a repeat of the traveller trespass in 2007.
He said: “In 2007, there was an incursion on there and it took about three months to get them off. We have got to get the whole of the Demesnes secure.”
A meeting will be held between people who live at Mill Cottages, the police and council. Cllr Thompson will join the delegation along with Cllr Chatterjee.