People have called for free parking in South Shields town centre after new figures revealed that council chiefs raked in more than £1million from motorists using car parks in the borough.
Drivers forked out £1,020,981 to leave their vehicles in South Tyneside’s 22 chargeable off-street car parks.
The new figures also showed the council made another £104,000 from people who used on-street pay-and-display bays.
The highest total were raised close to the town’s seafront tourist attractions.
The council made a further £211,639 penalising drivers for parking bay infringements, and £237,845 from Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for other roads offences.
The figure for car park parking income for April 2016 to March 2017 is the highest since at least 2013-14 - and show a year-on-year rise.
In 2013-14, the council made £879,233 from its car parks, rising to £920,244 the following year and £949,886 in 2015-16.
When employee and administrative charges are deducted, it made a £546,828 profit on parking and roads penalties.
Residents wasted little time taking to our Facebook page about the figures, with many saying that parking charges should be scrapped in the town centre to encourage more people to use it.
Elsa Iley-clark commented: “Parking should be free as the town and shops are rubbish.”
Donna Watson agreed, saying: “Should be free parking to encourage more people into Shields.”
Paul Rogers said: “And they wonder why the town centre is empty of shops.”
Others complained that the standard of car parks in certain areas is not worth paying for.
Resident Peter Hopper said: “Won’t mind paying the charge if someone was there looking after it. Same goes for the hospital. How can there justify the charge when no one patrols the area?”
Heather Ditchburn Curry agreed: “Wouldn’t mind paying for decent parking but the car park in Mile End Road is a disgrace, more likely to damage your car.”
Commenting on the figures a South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “Charges have not increased since 2010 and we have some of the lowest fees in Tyne and Wear with a penny-a-minute rate for the first hour in the majority of our car parks.
“Car parking charges are not set with the aim of making a profit.”
“Surplus money from parking revenue is reinvested back into highways and road safety as well as to improve and secure our car parks.
“The fact that this surplus has been achieved without increasing parking charges is an endorsement of our regeneration efforts to attract increasing numbers of people to our towns.”