DRIVERS will have to pay higher parking charges from next month.
Sunderland City Council is putting up charges at all its carparks by 10p per hour from February 2.
Thursday’s Free After 3 scheme is continuing in all council car parks, with the Bridges car parks free after 5.30pm, to support the centre’s new dedicated late night shopping evening which begins on January 8.
The council is introducing the higher parking charges after it was revealed car parks in the city cost more to run than the income they generate.
However, the council has not increased the price of parking for the last five years while the Bridges – which has 940 spaces across its two car parks – has seen no increase for six years.
The authority is also introducing a two-tier permit system for its car parks.
The permits allow for a saving of between 48 and 65 per cent if using the St Mary’s or Sunniside multi-storeys daily on a gold permit, or a saving of between 31 and 54 per cent at other car parks.
A gold permit will cost £1350 a year, allowing parking at any of the council-run car parks in the city centre, with a silver permit available at £900 a year, which will allow permit holders to park at the Civic Centre, Nile Street, West Wear Street, Charles Street, Tatham Street, Gorse Road and High Street West car parks.
The new system is aimed at striking a balance between the pressures of saving money but at the same time taking into consideration the need to support city centre businesses and people who work there.
Bridges centre director Andy Bradley said: “It has been a very long time since there has been an increase in parking charges at the Bridges.
“We have tried to keep this as low as possible and we still offer good value when compared to other cities and towns around the region.”
The council currently manages 3584 parking spaces across the city, comprising of three multi-storey car parks, eight chargeable off-street car parks, 11 locations where there are chargeable on-street bays and 25 free off-street car parks.
Councillor Michael Mordey, Portfolio Holder for City Services which oversees council parking services, said that helping businesses was high on the agenda.
He said: “These council measures – Free After 3 every Thursday, the new tariffs and the new permits – are about helping retail and commercial businesses, helping commuters, and balancing the books.
“The City Council, in addition, has also to look at road safety, how it can tackle congestion and look to the interests of all highways users.
“While charges have been frozen for more than five years, the decision to increase them is not made lightly and the city council is committed to reviewing and refreshing its parking strategies.”