Motorists snub Stoke-on-Trent city centre pay and display car parking
INCOME from the city's pay and display car parks is set to plunge again as plans for a city-wide review of parking charges ground to a "standstill."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council pledged to look into cutting parking charges and trialling special offers last year after the amount of cash it raised from car parks fell to £400,000 less than officers budgeted.
But no proposals for revising parking charges have been brought forward and council bean-counters are predicting the authority will again fall short of its income target for the financial year – this time by £359,000.
The authority said the shortfall is the result of fewer people than expected using the city's car parks and a fall in the cash raised from fines issued to motorists who stray into bus lanes.
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Measures like reintroducing evening and Sunday charges, and charging at Dimensions and Fenton Manor leisure centres, have also failed to meet the council's expectations on income.
Doug Wardle, spokesman for the traders' group the City Centre Partnership, called for the council to "reopen the park and ride debate."
He said: "Charging a premium to use a small car park close to the city centre doesn't suit everybody.
"But if the council was to use a brownfield site a mile away from the city centre and offer all-day parking and a bus ride for £2, it may prove popular.
"I also understand that private car parks in the city are doing well, so the council should perhaps be looking at what they are doing differently.
"It's difficult because everywhere you go people are talking about cutting parking charges to encourage people to come to their city centres."
Figures show income from parking charges has slumped from almost £3.2 million in 2009/10 to about £2.5 million last year.
Officers blamed the 'Tesco factor' for hitting them in the pocket as motorists increasingly take advantage of free parking at the retailer's new Hanley superstore.
Councillor Dave Conway, leader of the opposition City Independents, below, said: "The big question must be what has happened to the review and why it is taking so long. It is at a standstill.
"I can't understand how they are unable to run car parking.
"They have introduced charges at Dimensions and, fair enough, some people are paying.
But a huge amount of people aren't. You can't move on Scotia Road because they are parking for free on the pavements on both sides of the road."
Mum-of-two Melissa Turner, aged 35, of Fenton, said: "The main reason people won't use the council car parks is because they're too expensive.
"You can park for free at Tesco and walk into town, which is what most people do."