Conservatives call for '˜simpler' parking policy in Sunderland with fares set to rise
Sunderland's Conservative party has called for a 'simpler' parking policy after it was announced that fares at some council-owned car parks are set to rise.
Council chiefs this week confirmed an increase of 10p an hour at venues such as St Mary’s and the Civic Centre car park, although some will stay the same.
Councillors defended the move, saying the increase is due to continued investment and improvement in parking facilities as well as traffic management.
But the city’s Liberal Democrat group has called the rises “exorbitant”, adding that the move will put off shoppers and drive trade away from Sunderland city centre.
Now, Conservatives have called for a “more attractive parking pricing policy” with more incentives for shoppers to use the sites.
Coun Peter Wood, the party’s spokesman for transport, said: “In announcing a 10p increase in car parking charges in the city, the Council has missed another opportunity of going for a simpler – and more attractive – pricing structure which would both attract more people to the city and bring more money into the Council’s coffers.
“It’s just the same staid, unsuccessful policy they come up with year in year out.
“Labour in Sunderland has no imagination or vision – and no answer to the city’s problems.”
Coun Wood added “The motorist wanting to park in Sunderland is faced with a multitude of different prices in different car parks.
“In some you pay even on a Sunday and Bank Holiday and at night; in others you don’t.
“What is needed is a simple, straightforward approach which applies across the city.
“The only time this is currently achieved is after 3pm on Thursdays when it is free across the board.
“This is the approach on which we should build.
“It is a pity the council continues to ignore a very useful survey sponsored last year by the city’s Civic Society which showed off-street car parks were underused even at weekends and suggested a different pricing policy.
“In addition to being free after 3pm on Thursdays it should also be free across the board on Sundays, Bank Holidays and after 6pm.
“During the rest of the week simple amounts of 50p (or £1) an hour could, say, apply for short-term on-street parking.
“In car parks the first hour might be free with £1 per hour thereafter and a maximum of £2 or £3 for a full day.
“Apart from being easier to understand and promote, such a policy would encourage more people to come into Sunderland.
“Both local business and the city’s taxpayers would benefit.
“Let’s become a parking-friendly city.”
In announcing the planned changes, council bosses pointed to a recent survey which showed that the average cost for an hour’s parking in Sunderland is 79p.
Portfolio holder for environment and transport, Councillor Amy Wilson said: “Car parking charges in Sunderland continue to offer good value compared to many other similar-sized cities and local areas, and the decision to raise them even slightly has not been taken lightly.
“We have had to consider these changes for council-operated car parks and on-street parking to help balance the demand for parking with the need to reduce congestion, keep traffic flowing freely across the city and continue investment in parking facilities.”