Parking machine faults costing Sunderland thousands of pounds

Sunniside car park, Sunderland.
Sunniside car park, Sunderland.
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At least one complaint a day is lodged about parking meters in Sunderland as the city council counts the cost of a £30,000 repair bill during the last two years.

Machines at 19 locations across the city centre have experienced problems during the last 12 months.

The council wants to keep all ticket machines up and running.

Councillor Michael Mordey

Complaints to council chiefs include the meters being out of tickets, stuck coins, customers failing to be issued with a ticket, some issued with the wrong time on them and problems after damage was caused by vandals.

During the 2014/15 financial year, the council spent £13,606 on repairs, with 372 complaints lodged during that period.

That cost was topped in the 12 months before with a bill of £14,932.

The figures, obtained by the Echo under the Freedom of Information Act, come after it was found the city’s parking operation had lost £469,000 during the last financial year.

It prompted a senior Conservative to say the problems don’t provide visitors with “a good impression” of the city.

The amount was calculated by the RAC Foundation by taking the income from charges and penalty notices, then deducting the running costs of the scheme.

The authority has said most faults on meters are cleared withiThe n 24 hours unless an engineer is needed, which could take up to 72 hours, with those at St Mary’s and Sunniside “addressed within 48 hours whenever possible”.

However, the council has said it is dealing with ongoing problems with the ability of the Sunniside machines, which cannot take notes. The outcome of an investigation carried out by its supplier and quote for repairs is still awaited.

The council was unable to reveal how many appeals against fines had been upheld due to problems or which complaints centred on which machines.

Councillor Michael Mordey, cabinet member for city services, said: “There are hundreds of thousands of tickets purchased for parking every year and in an ideal world machines would not break down or get vandalised.

“The council wants to keep all ticket machines up and running, and we do respond to issues promptly, but more complex faults can mean repairs from external suppliers or manufacturers.”

Councillor Peter Wood, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said: “There’s obviously a big problem in terms of the meters and car parks because we’ve seen they’re losing half a million pounds in just one year.

“It’s important that the machines in the car parks are working as well as they can. I’ve had problems myself in Gorse Road car park.

“It doesn’t give a good impression.”

Locations where problems gave been reported:

Boughton Street Car Park

Bridge Street

Civic Centre Car Park

Charles Street Car Park

Foyle Street

Frederick Street

Gorse Road Car Park

Green Terrace

High Street West

High Street West Car Park

Laura Street

Livingstone Road Car Park - two machines

Nile Street Car Park

Tatham Street Car Park - two machines

Toward Road

Villiers Street

West Sunniside

West Wear Street Car Park

Whitburn Road – three machines.