Parking tariffs across South Shields Town Centre are to be frozen with additional free parking provided following a review of the service as part of South Tyneside Council's budget plans.
Parking charges will remain the same across the town centre with visitors still able to park for 1p a minute for the first hour and then 80p per hour thereafter. The all-day parking charge will also stay at £3 a day and tickets will continue to be transferable across the town centre's Council owned car parks.
A number of changes to parking services will come into effect, ahead of the summer months.
These include making the Council-owned car park by the old library building, in Prince Georg Square, free seven days a week, while Winchester Street council staff car park will be free to all on Saturdays and Sundays. This complements the hundreds of free parking spaces that are already available across the wider area.
The Council staff car park in Charlotte Street West will also be made available to members of the public from Monday to Friday (not just on Saturdays and Sundays as it currently stands).
Overall car park operational hours will also shift forward with charges applying from the new earlier time of 8am until 5pm, making it free to park in the town centre after 5pm.
Councillor Nancy Maxwell, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said: "We know that free parking is an issue that really matters to town centre visitors and businesses, which is why are creating free spaces at the former central library site. We are also introducing free parking on weekends at Winchester Street.
"Elsewhere in the Town Centre, we are freezing charges. This means that Town Centre charges have not increased since 2010 and remain among the lowest fees in Tyne and Wear, with a penny-a-minute rate for the first hour."
Parking will remain free in Jarrow and Hebburn town centres as well as The Nook shopping parade.
However, for the first time in over a decade, the Council is making a small increase in the parking charges across South Shields foreshore.
Seafront visitors will continue to be able to park for 1p a minute for the first hour, then £1 per hour thereafter - a 20p rise on the current rate. The all-day parking charge across seafront car parks will also increase to £5 per day all year round and the car park operational hours will run for an additional hour with the new times of 8am to 8pm.
Tickets will remain transferable across the car parks.
Regular visitors to South Shields seafront will be able to get unlimited use of the area's nine seafront car parks and on street parking areas with an annual foreshore pass for £100. This is the equivalent of 20 all day visits at only £2 per week.
Councillor Maxwell added: "We believe that the cost to park at our stunning seafront area continues to offer excellent value for money compared to neighbouring coastal areas. Money generated from parking charges goes back into highways and road safety as well as the maintenance, improvement and security of Council owned car parks.
"Though charges have remained the same over the past ten years, it is important to note that the Council has lost almost 40 per cent of its real spending power over the last nine years and is in the top three councils hardest hit by austerity measures.
"This has meant we have had to make some difficult decisions to help protect and prioritise our services, including asking some people to pay a little more for the services that they use. These changes ensure parking charges are proportionate to current maintenance and operating costs while helping towards the financial challenges faced by the Council."
For further information about parking in South Tyneside visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/parking
Notes to Editors:
Visitors to South Shields Town Centre can already take advantage of the hundreds of free parking spaces available at:
- The Customs House
- The Word (for up to 3 hours)
- Ocean Road
- St Hilda's at Crossgate
- River Drive
- Mile End Road