Park your car and pay by phone

NEW PARKING ... the car park takes shape on the site of the former John Wright Centre.
NEW PARKING ... the car park takes shape on the site of the former John Wright Centre.

A MOBILE phone parking revolution is planned in South Shields town centre.

Motorists will soon be able to use their mobile to pay for parking by credit or debit card, rather than having to use loose change at pay and display machines.

When drivers arrive at a car park, they will be able to call to say they have arrived and call again when they leave.

The theory is that the trial will give car park users more freedom to park without the need for small change – and reduce the possibility of drivers receiving a parking fine for overstay or non-display of tickets.

Under the scheme, for which drivers must register, traffic wardens will be able to check which vehicles have paid using internet connected handhelds.

A similar approach is already in operation around the Central Station area in Newcastle.

The scheme is part of a raft of parking measures to be unveiled when members of the council’s Place Select Committee meet next week.

They will also be told that a new car park, on the site of the former John Wright Centre, at the back of Ocean Road, will open later this month, offering a total of 65 spaces.

A new overspill parking management scheme is also to be introduced at the town’s foreshore.

The foreshore has a large overspill car park facility at The Dragon sports area, but feedback suggests that stressed motorists sometimes miss the signs.

From this summer, the council will provide a team of parking stewards on the busiest days of the year to help direct drivers, ensuring a more relaxed experience and boosting the economy by making sure visitors are not put off if the main car parks are full.

Also on the agenda – as part of the town’s 365 masterplan – is the creation of ‘retailer-only’ parking areas in the town centre.

Coun Nancy Maxwell, chair of Place Select Committee, said: “The council has put a range of measures in place to make it easier for people to park, both in South Shields town centre and at the seafront.

“These include using parking stewards to help people find overspill parking on busy days at the foreshore and the chance to pay for parking using your mobile phone.”

In a report to the committee, John Hewitt, the council’s corporate director for business and resources, says: “During the redevelopment of the town centre, a revised approach to business parking could also be considered.

“This may take the form of a section of ‘retailer-only’ car parking or a full car park. This would allow businesses to ensure that they can have access to parking space for themselves or their customers.

“Investigations of such a scheme are at an early stage.”

Additionally, there are plans for new car parking ticket machines linked to a computer system that will allow greater flexibility on changes to tariffs and parking offers.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul