Lib Dems condemn parking charge rises in Sunderland
'Exorbitant' parking charges are putting off shoppers and driving people out of the city centre, Sunderland Lib Dems have said in an attack on planned rises.
Sunderland City Council has announced it is putting up rates in its car parks and some on-street parking locations by 10p per hour.
Council chiefs say the increase is due to investment in improving parking facilities and traffic management. But the move has not been universally welcomed.
Lib Dem councillor Martin Haswell, who represents the Pallion ward, said: "The exorbitant cost of parking dissuades local shoppers from visiting shops, restaurants and other businesses in our city centre, and persuades them, instead, to go elsewhere.
"It is, unfortunately, unsurprising that businesses in our city centre have struggled over the past few years."
Niall Hodson, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Sunderland City Council and ward councillor for Millfield, which includes the Thornholme area, said parking charges also caused knock-on problems for people living near the city centre.
He said: "My constituents frequently tell me that they have problems with parking.
"Visitors to the city centre try to avoid parking fees and park in the side streets in my ward, meaning that local residents have nowhere to park. Yet another rise in parking fees will inevitably make life harder for them."