Split opinion over new parking charge regime at car park near Haven Point in South Shields
Changes to the parking charge times at South Shields' Haven Point leisure centre have divided opinion.
We reported on Monday how the parking payment period at the 60-space Pier Parade, the car park closest to Haven Point leisure centre in South Shields, has been slammed for bringing forward by 90 minutes the parking pay period.
Since the £16million Haven Point opened in 2013, the car parking meter kicked in at 9.30am, meaning early bird centre users could enjoy facilities without having to pay to park.
But on Monday, May 20, the council brought enforcement forward to 8am, with pool user Colin Campbell claiming the council failed to properly alert drivers to the new pay policy, meaning few knew of the regulations switch. The council refuted this, however, pointing to public notices which had been put on display and a press release issued informing residents, as well as other communications.
Town hall bosses added that only warning notices rather than penalty charges were issued to people breaking the rules for the the first seven days after the changes came into effect.
The issue has split opinion on the Gazette's Facebook page.
Andrew McIntosh said: "If an individual never had to pay before then and did not see any press release (maybe they don't buy the Shields Gazette) then how could they be expected to know about planned changes?
"Was notification of changes made available and informed by a member of staff at Haven Point to users of the leisure facilities? Makes you wonder."
Christina Walker said: "I would have been caught out by the new times which effects all foreshore car parks had I not been a Facebook user."
Debs Henderson said: "There are very few free parking spaces anywhere is South Shields now.
"And they wonder why the town centre is dying. Surely if you want to attract people and new business, shoppers you should at least try to encourage them into the town with free parking."
Sherina Mcgee said: "It's terrible, they have increased all the parking fees. At the Dunes car park I had to borrow money from someone as I didn't have enough money with me to pay for parking. I felt awful. There's no reason to increase the charges. Just another way to screw money out of people."
But not everyone was so keen to criticise the council.
Tom Martin said: "People expect everything handed to them for free, then point accusing fingers at the council of being 'greedy' for daring to charge what is a small fee for a service that every other council in the country also charges a fee for.
"It is a premium placed car park, of course there should be a fee to park there. The fees are hardly extortion. Most will spend more than the cost of parking there on a coffee.
"Grow up folks. Nothing in life is free."
Vicky Chisholm said Haven Point was a "cracking pool facility" superior to other pools in the region where parking was free.
Paul Fletch said: "Councils need to generate money which means council tax does not have to be so high as to cover everything (all councils not just STC).
"I would like to see it go further - council tax should be used to cover things we all use - Police, refuse collection, street lighting, parks, litter/beach clean up etc
"But optional use things like car parks and library etc should have charges for those choosing to use them when others don’t. Those charges do not need to be high and are only used to help off set the actual full cost of maintaining them which the majority would still come from our council tax."