Shoppers in South Shields town centre are in line for a double boost as South Tyneside Council announce a reduction in parking charges in part of the town centre, and retailers welcome the new parking refund scheme unveiled earlier this month.
A new system will see the town centre divided into two zones, with charges set to be reduced in the area to the east of the town centre between Mondays and Saturdays.
All-day parking in the eastern town centre zone, bounded by the Metro line, Anderson Street and Coston Drive in the east and Beach Road to the south, will be reduced to a maximum of £2, with shorter stays continuing to be charged at just 1p per minute.
Charges in the western town centre zone - the area mostly to the west of the Metro line - will be unchanged at 1p per minute for the first hour, then 80p per hour or £3 all day. This area includes Mile End Road car park.
Car parks outside these areas - at Mill Dam, St Hilda's Street, Claypath Lane (weekends only) and Ocean Road - will continue to be free.
In a further boost for shoppers, all Council car parks in the town centre and foreshore areas will be free on Sundays and after 5pm throughout December. After Christmas, Sunday parking charges will revert to the usual 1p per minute (minimum 10 minutes) up to £1 all day.
Meanwhile, the Council's parking refund scheme, which will see town centre stores reimburse shoppers for their parking tickets, has drawn a strong response with retailers large and small. Among those already signed up to the scheme are Argos, Greenwoods, Thomas Cook, Just for Pets, Clark's and B&M. Also committed are Beautiful Homes, Riddick's, GHI Computers, Homefair Blinds and Ewe-phoria, with further stores still signing up.
Councillor Michael Clare, Lead Member for Regeneration and Economy at South Tyneside Council, said: "We are making real progress towards making the South Shields 365 vision a reality, and this is another investment by the Council to help shoppers and traders alike. Lower charges in the eastern zone will save shoppers money and encourage more people into the town centre.
"Retailers are also signing up for the parking refund scheme in good numbers, which is another boost for shoppers. Both changes will be introduced from 30 November, so people will see the benefit in the run-up to Christmas and beyond."
Under the refund scheme, motorists using Council-run town centre car parks will receive two tickets. One will be displayed on the windscreen in the usual way, while the other can be refunded at participating retailers when the customer spends a minimum amount in their store.
Participating retailers will set their own level of qualifying spend between £10 and £50, which will be displayed on a colour-coded sticker in their shop window.
The announcement is the latest milestone for the Council's South Shields 365 masterplan, which aims to make the town an exciting destination every day of the year. The Council recently appointed Muse Developments to deliver the plan, and secured a £12m low-cost Government loan through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to get the first construction work started next year.
Confirmed participating retailers, and their agreed qualifying spend levels:
Thomas Cook £50 (new bookings only)
Just 4 Pets £10
Argos £50 (not on gift cards or vouchers)
Beautiful Homes £10
B and M £20
Homefair Blinds £40
Crazy Clearance £20
Northern Threads £50
Edit Clothing £50
Beacon Electrical £50