Middlesbrough Council gambles £300,000 on free parking initative

Darlington and Stockton Times: A customer pays for a ticket. Soon he won't have to. A customer pays for a ticket. Soon he won't have to.

AS OTHER councils tighten their belts, one North East council is set to risk hundreds of thousands of pounds by offering free town centre parking.

Plans to introduce two hours of free parking in all council operated car parks and some residential streets could cost Middlesbrough Council more than £300,000 in lost revenue during its first six months.

The council has already lost around £500,000 in car parking revenue as a result of the economic downturn.

However, with custom to the town “haemorrhaging” according to a council report, the town’s mayor says the plans are a risk worth taking.

It is hoped that the free parking will boost the local economy by encouraging trade and attracting more visitors to the town centre.

Other councils in the area showed no sign of following in the footsteps of Middlesbrough. 

Redcar and Cleveland Councillor Steven Goldswain said the council was about to review car parking across the borough but added that he believed Pay and Display to be effective. 

A spokesman for Stockton Borough Council said experiences with free parking in Yarm had proved “difficult to manage” while the leader of Darlington council, Bill Dixon, said free parking was not something he would rush into without looking into it carefully.

However, Middlesbrough's mayor Ray Mallon said: “The economy of this town is vital and we must do everything we can to assist its businesses.  This council will lose £74m between 2011 and 2016 as a result of goverment cuts.  Another £300,000 loss will make our situation more difficult but I cannot see any other alternative.

“According to the public, the biggest barrier stopping them from attending the town centre is car parking charges. The only risk the council can take now is not taking a risk at all. We live in a risky environment. By giving free parking we are proving that we really are doing everything possible to enhance the economy.”

The move has largely been welcomed by local businesses. Julia Wright, the manageress of Laura Day Bridal on Linthorpe Road, said: “The first thing customers ask us is if there is somewhere free to park. Charges put off shoppers and add to your shopping bill. This will encourage more people to come into the town and will definitely improve business.”

A council meeting will be held on Tuesday February 12 to decide whether to implement the proposals which would mean free parking for the first two hours in all council car parks and in the town’s ‘Jewel’ streets (Amber Street, Ruby Street, Emerald Street, Pearl Street, Garnet Street and Diamond Road) for a trial period of six to nine months. The council will also offer £20 monthly permits for its Zetland and Station Street car parks.

The plans have attracted mixed reactions from councils, business owners and key figures across the region – more inside.

More Middlesbrough Council News

Comments (7)

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12:36pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Topcat28 says...

I personally would be more inclined to use town centers if parking was free instead of using retail parks.
I personally would be more inclined to use town centers if parking was free instead of using retail parks. Topcat28

2:51pm Wed 6 Feb 13

The Publicist says...

The Mayor of Middlesbrough’s plans to introduce 2 hours free parking in its car parks is a small - and only a small step - in the right direction. Middlesbrough Council along with all other local authorities in the north-east have been using the motorist as a cash cow for decades, the result being that retailers, particularly small retailers in town centre locations have suffered and out of town shopping centres have benefited. The millions of pounds that councils raise each year from parking charges is supposed to be ring fenced and only spent on transport services – a fact that Mr Mallon was oblivious to when he was interviewed on BBC Radio Tees this morning (6 February). Darlington Council in the last financial year made a profit of £1.3 million pounds on all parking charges and fines. Where has this money been spent? On transport services or is it being put illegally into the Council’s coffers?
Peter Troy - Ferryhill
The Mayor of Middlesbrough’s plans to introduce 2 hours free parking in its car parks is a small - and only a small step - in the right direction. Middlesbrough Council along with all other local authorities in the north-east have been using the motorist as a cash cow for decades, the result being that retailers, particularly small retailers in town centre locations have suffered and out of town shopping centres have benefited. The millions of pounds that councils raise each year from parking charges is supposed to be ring fenced and only spent on transport services – a fact that Mr Mallon was oblivious to when he was interviewed on BBC Radio Tees this morning (6 February). Darlington Council in the last financial year made a profit of £1.3 million pounds on all parking charges and fines. Where has this money been spent? On transport services or is it being put illegally into the Council’s coffers? Peter Troy - Ferryhill The Publicist

3:52pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Homshaw1 says...

At least Middlesbrough are making some effort to revive the town centre.
At least Middlesbrough are making some effort to revive the town centre. Homshaw1

4:06pm Wed 6 Feb 13

The Publicist says...

Yes indeed in is some effort- but it is too little and too late. All parking, particularly on road parking all be it with some time constraints, in town centres should and needs to be free!
Yes indeed in is some effort- but it is too little and too late. All parking, particularly on road parking all be it with some time constraints, in town centres should and needs to be free! The Publicist

7:37pm Wed 6 Feb 13

spragger says...

A step backwards, in the right direction
An admission that Council car parking charges have contributed to the death of town centres
A step backwards, in the right direction An admission that Council car parking charges have contributed to the death of town centres spragger

8:11pm Wed 6 Feb 13

the-big-yin says...

I wish they would have car park charges in Crook....
This might stop all of the council workers from parking on Crook market place and surrounding streets........that'
s why Crook is dying a slow death.....
I wish they would have car park charges in Crook.... This might stop all of the council workers from parking on Crook market place and surrounding streets........that' s why Crook is dying a slow death..... the-big-yin

7:47pm Thu 14 Feb 13

D.C.T. 2000 says...

The Publicist wrote:
The Mayor of Middlesbrough’s plans to introduce 2 hours free parking in its car parks is a small - and only a small step - in the right direction. Middlesbrough Council along with all other local authorities in the north-east have been using the motorist as a cash cow for decades, the result being that retailers, particularly small retailers in town centre locations have suffered and out of town shopping centres have benefited. The millions of pounds that councils raise each year from parking charges is supposed to be ring fenced and only spent on transport services – a fact that Mr Mallon was oblivious to when he was interviewed on BBC Radio Tees this morning (6 February). Darlington Council in the last financial year made a profit of £1.3 million pounds on all parking charges and fines. Where has this money been spent? On transport services or is it being put illegally into the Council’s coffers? Peter Troy - Ferryhill
Did the council meeting take place? Has the outcome not been reported ? I have checked the Middlesbrough council web site and it states 2 hours free parking starts next Monday 18 Feb. But nothing has been reported in the Echo as far as I can see. This must make Stockton & Darlington councils consider their position, or they going bury their heads in the sand while their town centres die?
[quote][p][bold]The Publicist[/bold] wrote: The Mayor of Middlesbrough’s plans to introduce 2 hours free parking in its car parks is a small - and only a small step - in the right direction. Middlesbrough Council along with all other local authorities in the north-east have been using the motorist as a cash cow for decades, the result being that retailers, particularly small retailers in town centre locations have suffered and out of town shopping centres have benefited. The millions of pounds that councils raise each year from parking charges is supposed to be ring fenced and only spent on transport services – a fact that Mr Mallon was oblivious to when he was interviewed on BBC Radio Tees this morning (6 February). Darlington Council in the last financial year made a profit of £1.3 million pounds on all parking charges and fines. Where has this money been spent? On transport services or is it being put illegally into the Council’s coffers? Peter Troy - Ferryhill[/p][/quote]Did the council meeting take place? Has the outcome not been reported ? I have checked the Middlesbrough council web site and it states 2 hours free parking starts next Monday 18 Feb. But nothing has been reported in the Echo as far as I can see. This must make Stockton & Darlington councils consider their position, or they going bury their heads in the sand while their town centres die? D.C.T. 2000

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