When I went to buy a coffee in the cinema they just stamped the ticket and said I didn't even need to buy anything ... but I didn't want to take advantage ;-)
So, for a couple of quid you have 24 hour parking.
One must question, again, the competence of the Council's legal department in allowing such a blunder.
...so rather than 'cheeky motorists' the byline should be 'crassly incompetent council strickes again.'
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
by Marissa Carruthers
Cheeky motorists are leaving their vehicles in a cash-strapped car park all day - and paying just the price of a cup of tea.
The Echo revealed how the £5million Sunniside multi-storey car park in the city centre cost twice as much to run it as it makes in ticket charges, losing more then £208,000 since opening.
But city centre workers who should be forking out up to £6 a day to park there are exploiting a discount deal set up to attract customers to bars and restaurants around the car park.
Visitors to businesses in the Limelight development, such as Frankie and Benny's and Nando's, can buy any item and get 24-hour parking for free if they get their ticket stamped.
So brazen motorists are buying a cuppa, for as little as £1.30, during a break from work and driving off from the car park without having to pay a fee - saving themselves £17.50 a week if they leave their vehicle there from 9am to 5pm.
Coun Bryn Sidaway, leader of the Independents, said: "People would be fools to not take advantage of this. Until the circumstances change this is going to continue and customers will continue to park there for free.
"And everybody has already paid for this through the sheer cost of the car park.
"I think it's a disgrace that the council spent more than £5million on a brand new car park and are incapable of generating the means to pay that money back."
Sunniside car park was branded a "money pit" by Tory leader Lee Martin after the Echo revealed it has brought in £192,513 during the past two years. Sunderland Council has paid £401,000 to NCP, which manages it, resulting in losses of £208,487.
But while council chiefs defended the cash-strapped car park, claiming it was still "establishing" itself, one nearby worker said she was not surprised to hear the multi-story was working at a major loss.
She claims many city centre workers are taking advantage of a deal between the multi-storey and customers of Sunniside's Limelight development, which includes the multiplex cinema, Gala Casino, Frankie and Benny's and Nando's.
The worker, who does not want to be named, said she knows of many people abusing the system.
The woman, who works near the car park, said: I had to smile to myself when I read the Echo. There are lots of businesses around that car park and I know for a fact their staff use that car park for between eight and 10 hours a day for free.
"They just pop into Nando's or Frankie and Benny's and get a drink and their tickets stamped so they get free parking for the whole day. It came as no surprise to me at all when I read the car park makes a loss. I work in a massive office and there are a number of people who I know for a fact do this. They go for a coffee in their break and get their ticket validated.
"I've reported the matter to the council on numerous occasions, but they don't seem to be doing anything."
A council spokesman said: "If any abuse of the system is reported to Sunderland City Council the city council will look into it."
- Parking at Sunniside costs 60p per hour from 8am to 6pm, 30p an hour from 6pm to 8am, and 30p an hour on Sundays up to a maximum of £1. Limelight customers are entitled to free parking if they get their tickets validated.
Echo reporter Marissa Carruthers put the parking claims to the test
Finding a parking place in any city centre is fairly difficult.
And usually finding one where you can leave your car all day safely for less than a couple of quid is even harder.
But Sunderland City Council's £5million Sunniside car park provides motorists with all of these factors.
Unable to believe that for the price of a cuppa I could leave my car in the swish new multi-storey car park for up to 24 hours, I decided to put it to the test.
And sure enough it is true.
I got a ticket, parked my car, wandered into Frankie and Benny's for a mid-morning pot of tea, costing £1.30, got my ticket validated and thought about hitting the shops for a few hours of hardcore shopping.
Unfortunately, I had to head back to the office, but if I was a Sunniside worker I could have saved myself £3.50 in just one day.
That's a staggering saving of £17.50 a week for a worker using the car park from 9am to 5pm.
It's no wonder so many chancers are playing their luck by parking there.