Stoke-on-Trent car parks targeted as city council plan fines increase
MORE parking fines are set to be handed out at Stoke-on-Trent's most popular car parks in an effort to rake in up to £780,000 in extra revenue.
The stricter ticket enforcement is being planned as part of attempts by Stoke-on-Trent City Council to make more cash out of its car parks.
Revised parking charges are also planned as part of its long-awaited parking strategy.
Details of the car parks to be targeted are yet to be revealed.
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But a Sentinel investigation of Hanley's car parks found 4,994 parking tickets were handed out at John Street multi-storey and 1,844 tickets were issued at Pall Mall car park between 2008 and 2012.
The strategy comes as new figures show the council has overestimated the amount it will raise from charges for the second year running.
Finance officials expected to raise £4.2 million from car parking and ticket enforcement this year but are expecting to miss the target by £339,000.
It follows a £345,000 shortfall in 2011/12 which had to be covered by savings from other services.
Records show income from city car parks peaked at almost £5 million in 2009/10 but have fallen consistently ever since.
Competition from free private car parks such as the new Tesco store in Hanley and the closure of popular council car parks, including John Street, have contributed to the decline.
It also emerged in October that pay and display machines are breaking down 1,600 times a year – despite a £45,000 maintenance contract with a private firm.
Motorists today hit out at the plans. Mother-of-two Melissa Turner, aged 35, of Fenton, who parks at Tesco when visiting Hanley, said: "The only way people will use the council car parks is if they're cheaper.
"I know a few who have had parking tickets from the council who refuse to use pay and display car parks now out of principle."
Motorist Dennis Johnson, aged 60, Cherry Hill Avenue, Meir, said: "I hope car parking prices aren't going up because they're bad enough already.
"If people knew the council were targeting popular car parks, it would put people off."
Opposition council leader Dave Conway added: "It has been a mess for several years and I expect we'll be in the same position again next year. It's about time they learned their lesson."
Council leaders blamed the fall in income on car park closures to make way for regeneration projects and petrol prices.
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transportation, said: "We are reviewing the level of demand and revenue generated at all our 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 parking supports the local economy."