Car park plan to stop shoppers 'driving off'
MOTORISTS could soon be paying when they leave a major car park in a new drive to encourage shoppers to stay in town for longer.
Newcastle Borough Council is considering introducing a 'pay on foot' system at the Midway multi-storey car park which has undergone a £2 million overhaul.
The revised payment procedure would see drivers pay for the length of time they have stayed at the facility rather than purchasing a ticket on arrival.
The system – which sometimes sees motorists take a voucher or 'chip coin' when entering the car park – would replace the existing pay-and-display machines.
The cost of installing an alternative payment scheme is expectded to be between £70,000 and £80,000.
And councillors have backed the proposals after claiming it could entice visitors to remain in the town centre for longer.
Labour councillor Sophia Baker said: "Parking in the town centre drives me mad and I never seem to have change.
"I think 'pay on foot' is a much better system and the way forward. It's something so fundamental and it would encourage people to hang around the town longer. It's something we should have done a long time ago.
"We are hurrying people and encouraging bad parking like leaving vehicles outside people's homes."
Options used in other 'pay on foot' systems include motorists using their mobile phones to top-up their ticket via text message.
Labour councillor Matt Taylor said: "I have been a strong supporter of getting this reviewed. We have to look at it as a way of revitalising the town. We can't imagine free parking so we should be looking at 'pay on foot'."
The nearest 'pay on foot' system in operation is at the Vue cinema's privately-owned car park, opposite Midway.
Shopper Laura Tilly, aged 29, of Blurton, said: "I prefer to pay for parking after shopping as then I'm not time-limited and don't have to rush back."
Council officers say introducing such a system has been problematic in the past due to the layout of the 620-space car park. But some of those problems have been addressed following the refurbishment.
The 'pay on foot' system is also in use in the Potteries at Hanley's Stoke-on-Trent City Council-run St John Street multi-storey car park.
Visitors to the Potteries Shopping Centre use a 'chip coin' system at the facility's car park.
The borough council has set up a working group of councillors to look into the different methods motorists can pay to park.
The authority is also considering offering vacant town centre stores on short-term leases as part of a 'pop up' shop initiative to attract more shoppers.