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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Local welcome for congestion charge
Durham city centre graphic
The first motorist in the UK to pay a city centre congestion charge fee said it was worth it to preserve the atmosphere of ancient Durham city.

Angus Griffin, 57, and his 53-year-old wife Ann, were the first people to be charged a 2 fee to use the 1,000-year-old Saddler Street in the city.

Mr Griffin, of Cleadon, South Tyneside, said: "If you look along Saddler Street and everything around there, the cathedral and the castle area, you realise that it is well worth keeping.

"I am more than happy to pay 2 and this would not stop me from returning.


Durham is now labelled as a city you have to pay to get into

Denise Raven, AA North East spokesman

"It is a fantastic area and anything like this can only be of benefit in preserving it."

From Tuesday, Durham County Council has charge 2 for vehicle access to the market area and Saddler Street, between 1000 and 1600 BST, Monday to Saturday.

Saddler Street leads to the heritage sites of Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle.

Office worker Rob Henderson, 34, of Sunderland, said: "It's a very good idea.

"Lots of people only drive in to drop someone off for a few minutes, turn around and then pick them up again."

Reduce congestion

Chef Chris Collier, 33, of Brandon, County Durham, said; "I don't know if it will stop people coming in to Saddler Street.

"If people want to see the cathedral they will probably pay the 2."

Student Nicola Graham, 19, of Sherburn village, County Durham, said: "I think it is a very good idea and do believe it will reduce congestion."

Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral is at the heart of the city

Motorists who use Durham's market square area face a 30 fine if they do not pay for access.

Durham County Council says the move will reduce the 3,000 vehicles a day which use the narrow entrance to the historic city centre and the approach to Durham's cathedral and castle.

Up to 17,000 pedestrians use the same stretch of road - wide enough for just one vehicle at a time.

Council leader Ken Manton said: "During the first six months there will be a member of staff present to address any difficulties drivers may have in using the system."

The City of Durham Trust has called for congestion charging to be trialled before being introduced permanently.

It claims charging could hit tourist numbers.

'Minor road'

Denise Raven, North East AA spokesman, said the scheme might not achieve what the city council hoped - and that it could give visitors the wrong impression.

She said: "It's on a very minor road, in effect a cul-de-sac, which is not a crucial area of the city.

"What they have to be careful of is that they have not introduced something that causes more problems for regular users, traders and delivery vehicles for the sake of a few thousand cars.

"Durham is now labelled a city you have to pay to get into."

See also:

01 Oct 02 | England
26 Jul 02 | Scotland
17 Jul 02 | Scotland
20 May 02 | UK
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