COUNCIL bosses are turning to the continent for inspiration on new parking ideas in South Tyneside.
A town centre business parking offer could be on the cards for South Shields as part of plans to help boost trade in the area.
The idea, which was raised at yesterday’s Place Select Committee in South Shields Town Hall, would be ideally set up in the Charlotte Street West car park, next to the former Streamline Garages.
The scheme’s ‘retailer only’ car parking would allow businesses to ensure that they can have access to parking spaces for either their workers or customers.
This could involved a single retailer or retailers grouping together within a street, thus guaranteeing a level of income to the council.
Andrew Whittaker, the council’s corporate lead for area management, said: “We are looking into this idea to see how viable it would be. It’s already something which is widely used on the continent and also in London.
“However, there’s one or two legal issues which we will have to look at very closely, like taxation, because we don’t want to solve one problem and then cause more in another area.”
Coun Doreen Purvis, a Labour representative for the Whiteleas ward in South Shields, questioned how the vehicles entering the site would be monitored
Mr Whittaker said: “It would probably be a barrier system. Perhaps the businesses would get a swipe card, or maybe the customers would have access to a pin number, which they would type in.
“One controlled site like this would be very easy to maintain.”
Meanwhile, the planned new mobile phone car parking payment scheme was also mentioned during the meeting.
The trial, which will be launched in June, will mean motorists can pay for a ticket by using their phones, and won’t be caught out.
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 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 handheld devices.
A similar approach is already in operation around the Central Station area in Newcastle.
Coun Joyce Welsh, who represents the West Park ward in South Shields, said: “I know a lot of people are worried about putting their bank account details into their phones. Is there any guarantees on the security of this?”
Mr Whittaker confirmed that he is very confident such systems are safe.
He said: “This is a very valid point, but because of the pre-registered system, they would have already registered their bank details.
“They wouldn’t just be entering them there and then.
“There will be options to use credit cards, PayPal, or perhaps to pop into a council office, like they do in Edinburgh.
“It’s all done over secure servers and systems, so I am confident that those who do use it will be perfectly safe.”