Sunderland car parks losing £383,000 a year

Parking meter.

Parking meter.

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COUNCIL bosses have come under fire as Sunderland’s parking revenue dropped even further into the red.

Figures released today by the RAC Foundation show Sunderland Ciy Council’s parking provision operated at a loss of £383,000 in 2013/14, compared to losing £306,000 the year before.

The figures place Sunderland sixth from the bottom – 348th out of 353 local authorities in the country.

Sunderland’s loss comes in stark contrast to Newcastle City Council, which made a profit of more than £6million, and North Tyneside which took home more than £2million.

When asked about the deficit, a council spokesman said stadium concerts and good or bad weather could all have an impact on parking around the city.

The authority has promised to reveal a package of changes in the New Year, but the spokesman was unable to give any details when asked by the Echo.

Deputy council leader Harry Trueman said: “Parking revenue often fluctuates on an annual basis.

“Nonetheless, the City Council has been reviewing parking and details on changes are being announced early next year.

“This package of changes is about seeking to balance the budget constraints the council faces and to help support city centre businesses and frequent users.”

The city’s Conservative transport spokesman Coun Peter Wood said: “It’s clearly very bad news at a time when the council is trying to save money.

“It’s bad news. Clearly the council needs to do things differently.

“That doesn’t mean we have to increase parking charges. We have the Free after Three scheme leading up to Christmas, which I very much welcome.”

A council spokesman said parking charges have not been increased since 2009, nor costs for penalty charge notices, and that there was competition from private car parks, the university and off-street parking.

He added: “Parking services to the City Council have always been more than a revenue-collecting exercise.

“Parking services in Sunderland are about improving road safety, reducing congestion in the interests of all highways users, and supporting economic activity and viability from the city centre to all local shopping areas.”