Innovative plans have been drawn up to transform car parking in Newcastle town centre.
A number of proposals are included in a draft Car Parking Strategy which the Borough Council believes will support businesses and help to increase footfall.
Some of the measures outlined in the document are: Launch a “One After One” scheme for shoppers who would be charged just £1 to park after 1pm from Monday to Friday, Provide electric charging points on all council-owned car parks, Slash parking permits for businesses and their staff in the retailing heart of Newcastle with most charged just £2 a day, Invest in a modern CCTV system for the Midway car park – the busiest in the borough, Modernise payment methods for motorists, Explore with the Business Improvement District (BID) its willingness to control charging on Goose Street as a dedicated “shoppers’ car park.”
Councillors considered the strategy at a meeting of the Economy, Environment and Place Scrutiny Committee and they agreed to support a consultation on the document which would take account of opinions given before deciding the next steps. Significant consultations have already taken place with shops, traders and car park users to shape the first draft of initial proposals. Now more detailed work will take place on detailed plans outlined in the document.
Cllr. Stephen Sweeney, Deputy Leader of the Council and the Cabinet member responsible for car parks, said: “We have stepped back and taken the time to ask town centre users, drivers and businesses what they would like to see changed or improved. Some of the suggestions put forward included more free parking, cheaper tariffs and all car parks to be converted to pay on exit.”
He added: “The Council will work closely with the BID and businesses to achieve the right balance between customer satisfaction, increased footfall and income. We are listening to people and we are looking to make changes they have called for over the last few years.”
The strategy proposes that the permit scheme currently run by the Council should be
simplified and a flat rate of £130 per quarter – or £2 per day – be offered to local
businesses and their staff. It also notes that the current concession of £1 after 3pm has cost the Council £84,000. Moving the £1 time to 1pm instead would increase this reduction in income to £95,000.
Cllr. Sweeney added: “It is important to note that the decision to introduce this particular
scheme was in order to support the town centre businesses – a loss of income was part of our administration’s calculations.”
New payment machines with chip and pin and/or contactless options will be introduced to modernise the way parking can be paid for and to allow more flexibility for users. Another proposal suggests that the setting of charges on Goose Street can be made by the BID and not the Council. In return the BID would be required to make up the predicted shortfall on the car parking income. Other costs would remain the responsibility of the Council, including enforcement. The strategy’s aspirations also try to address the long-term impacts of greener transport and cleaner air issues on town centre parking. The growth of electric vehicles over the next five years will be important and the Council’s proposals take into account ways to support the use of electric vehicles by providing adequate numbers of charging points.
Following scrutiny committee’s recommendations, the Car Parking Strategy will go to Cabinet on 16 October for a decision on what happens next.