Stoke-on-Trent businesses hit out at city council's parking charges
MOTORISTS have paid out more than £700,000 to park on Sundays and evenings since a cash-strapped council implemented the controversial charges.
But despite the additional revenue, Stoke-on-Trent City Council still needs to make almost £2 million from its pay-and-display facilities to match the budget target.
City centre business owners have criticised the continuing Sunday and night-time charges, claiming the controversial scheme is damaging footfall.
In April 2010 the authority rolled out the flat-rate evening charge – which runs from 6pm until 7am – before reintroducing a Sunday fee a year later.
Since then the authority has made £501,780 from the evening tariff with £212,768 coming from Sundays.
Sydney Rebolo manager of Portofino Italian restaurant, in Marsh Street, said: "There aren't a lot of things to bring people in to the city centre in the evening apart from a few restaurants and the theatre.
"People need a reason to come in to Hanley in the evening and parking charges will only put people off."
Marcela Oxa, who is manager of Cheapside-based restaurant La Bella Napoli, has asked the city council for parking spaces outside her business.
She said: "I got in contact with the council to inquire about the possibility of setting up some parking spaces along Cheapside to give my customers somewhere to park.
"They looked into it and said it would be done at the end of September, but nothing has happened.
"My customers will often comment about the charges in the evening and the trouble they have parking.
"We get quite a few people who have visited the theatre and complain about the amount of time it takes to get on and off the multi-storey on St John Street.
"With the bus station being built, people struggle to find somewhere safe to park and don't want to have to pay too. It's putting people off."
Shopper Natalie Moseley, aged 24, who is a mother-of-two from Sneyd Green, is less opposed to the charges, but wants to see a standard rate applied.
She said: "I don't mind paying so long as I know my car is safe.
"I don't agree with all the different charges in the city centre, I think there should be a standard set fare."
Between April and November last year the authority made £2.3 million from its pay-and-display car parks.
However, the council is hoping to make a total of £4.2 million by April.
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for transportation, said: "Wider economic matters, such as rising petrol prices, have also had an effect on revenue as more people are choosing to leave their cars at home and either walk or use public transport.
"We are reviewing the level of demand and revenue generated at all Stoke-on-Trent's public car parks.
"We will use this information to put together a robust strategy in relation to car parking in order to improve facilities and income, and ensure that car parking supports the local economy."