'We are due a refund' - drivers' anger over £1million parking 'profit' raked in by South Tyneside Council

The issue of car parking is rarely far from controversy
The issue of car parking is rarely far from controversy

Drivers have hit out after it was revealed South Tyneside Council made almost £1million in parking charges in just one year.

Figures from the RAC Foundation show the council's parking operation made a surplus of £977,000 in the 2017/18 financial year, an increase of £614,000 on the previous year.
The council said its charges were among the lowest in Tyne and Wear and any "profit" made was put back into improving roads, road safety and car parks.

However, drivers in the borough were not impressed with the explanation and said it was time for change.

Commenting on our Facebook page, Tracy Pino said the charges did little to encourage people into South Shields' struggling town centre.

She said: "We paid three quid to park overnight in a Glasgow city centre car park. The city was packed with people all evening. Not dead like Shields main shopping areas. Our council needs to be encouraging people into Shields."

Craig McCombie added: "For every penny spent in a car park, that's potentially one less spent in local shops or eateries."

Michael Mudditt said: "I never go where I have to pay to park, it’s insane."

Other drivers raised questions over how the money raised from parking charges was spent.

Dave Scholey said: "If it all goes back into improving parking we are due a refund, as there has been precious little improvement in South Shields that anyone can see."

Barry King said: "Personally I don’t have an issue with the parking charges in Shields. I mean, 1p a minute at most car parks is pretty reasonable.

"However, you never get to see where this almost £1million goes, or the near £0.5m from traffic cameras which if there was a little more transparency on where those specific funds went, maybe people would have a better understanding."

Paul Rogers raised the issue of the controversial "bus gate" camera in Edinburgh Road on the Scotch Estate in Jarrow.

The Gazette revealed in the summer how almost £800,000 in fines had been issued to drivers using the gate who were caught on the camera.
"What are they doing with the money?" He said. "It ain’t repairing the roads."

Some drivers also bemoaned the level of charges at some parking machines in the borough.

Simon Jones said: "The 70p for an hour really p*****s me off. Why not a round figure like 50p? How many times have you put a pound in and got an hours parking because you have no change.

"I would rather they be honest and charged a quid."

Margaret Jobes said: "Machines that don’t give change, put £1 in and get an hours parking when it’s supposed to be 70p an hour or 1p a minute. Not a fair system."