Drivers hit back over parking windfall

PARKING PROBLEMS ... drivers have mixed views over parking in South Shields town centre.
PARKING PROBLEMS ... drivers have mixed views over parking in South Shields town centre.

DRIVERS have hit back at South Tyneside Council after it was revealed that parking fees and fines have generated almost half a million pounds in profit.

Gazette readers have taken to our website to say South Shields town centre is “dying on its feet” and parking charges are part of the problem.

Earlier this week, we revealed how South Tyneside Council made a £467,000 profit from parking fees and tickets in the 12 months to April this year.

The figure was revealed by a study carried out by motoring organisation the RAC Foundation.

In a bid to draw more shoppers into South Shields town centre, the council last month launched a parking fee redemption scheme in the town centre, under which shoppers can have their parking fee redeemed by traders if they spend a certain amount of cash.

But readers say this doesn’t go far enough, and are now calling for council chiefs to ditch the fees, and bring in free parking to help revive the town, as well as reveal where the money generated has been spent.

In response to the figures, a council spokesman said the authority believed the charges to be “reasonable” and offered “good value for money” compared with other towns in the region.

The spokesman added: “The charging structure also supports the local economy by maximising turnover of short-term parking spaces, as well as aiding traffic management.”

But Banished wrote on our website that sometimes “you have to take a hit” to gain in the future.

He said: “Free parking now may help in the regeneration. I know from my own behaviour. For food shopping, I go to Boldon, Jarrow, or possibly Washington.

“For clothes, furniture, etc and entertainment I go to Newcastle.

“To walk the coast, have coffee etc, I go to Seaburn.

“I feel for the rundown state of South Shields. I am not unique.

“But I will not be going back to Shields on the strength of promises – it needs a combination of improvements and incentives.”

The Menace wrote: “Nobody seems to have a good word to say about our council.

“Obviously, the majority of the population of South Tyneside are happy with the performance and the decisions which are made in the town hall, including paying for parking in the town centre.”

Geordiman wrote that Jarrow, with its free parking, was “heaving” on December 23. He added: “Car park was full.

“That means money going into the shops, where it should go, and not parking meters, which only make people go elsewhere.”

Pransomhince wrote: “For my car, I pay vehicle tax, tax on petrol, insurance, MOT. Tell me why should I pay to park it?

“Parking fees are a no-no in South Shields.”

Meanwhile, Gary Dawes is in favour of a parking charge.

He wrote: “Since the half-million goes back into the council coffers, it helps keep council tax low. Why shouldn’t drivers pay to park?

“Those car parks don’t surface and line themselves.

“When you go to Asda or Morrisons, the cost of the car parking is absorbed by the company and added into the cost of the shopping.

“Bearing in mind that a lot of the car parking in Shields is for tourists from outside the area, it is right that they should pay.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazlisa