Phone-to-park scheme wins drivers’ approval

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.

MOTORISTS have given a ringing endorsement to plans for a mobile phone parking revolution in South Shields.

Drivers 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 they arrive at a car park, motorists will be able to call or text to register that they have arrived, and they can do the same 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 risk of being fined for staying too long or not displaying tickets.

Traffic wardens will be able to use internet-connected handsets to check which vehicles have paid.

The move is part of a raft of parking measures to be unveiled at next week’s meeting of South Tyneside Council’s place select committee.

The move was given a good reception in a straw poll of motorists the Gazette approached at town centre car parks.

Postman Paul Walsh, 49, of Frost Mews, South Shields, said: “I think it’s a brilliant idea. So many times the machines are not working, and some don’t take shiny 10p pieces.

“Today, I parked at the top of the car park but had to walk all the way to the bottom to pay.

“The only problem I can see is that elderly people may struggle to pay on their mobiles, but if they are keeping the traditional machines, that should be OK.”

Ex-soldier Matthew Mawson, 77, of Consett, County Durham, visits South Shields most Friday mornings to go to the town’s flea market.

He said: “I’ve never heard of that before. I think it would work. Many times I have ran out of time when I have been in the town and have received a ticket. This would prevent that happening.

“Best of all is it will give you peace of mind not to have to hurry back to your car.

“It means you don’t have to scramble around for loose change.”

Postman John Roberts, 43, of Fellgate, Jarrow, agreed.

He said: “It’s a canny idea. At the very least, it’s another option for you to park in town. I would give it a go.

“I sometimes use the parking redemption scheme, when you have the price of your ticket redeemed by retailers in town.

“I’d give the council credit for trying something new.”

South Shields engineer James McGuinn, 42, said: “If it is just a question of parking up, texting and going, I think it’s a good idea.”

His wife, Deborah McGuinn, 49, added: “I come into town quite a bit to see my dad, and this would be really useful.

“The machines often don’t work, and I’ve had to call up the council to report problems when they are not working. This idea would save a lot of hassle.”

Less convinced was former Merchant Navy man Bill Brennan, 68, of South Shields.

He said: “I don’t think it would be of much use to me, to be honest.

“I have a pay-as-you-go phone, and texting or phoning would use up my credit.

“It might be OK for people who have a phone on a contract, but I think I will keep on doing it the old-fashioned way by putting coins in the machines, so I’m glad they are keeping them.”


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