North Tyneside Council criticised over [pounds sterling]200 increase to parking permits; Visitors to the seafront used to pay [pounds sterling]50 per year but from January 18 the price of parking permits between Tynemouth and Whitley Bay will rocket.
Byline: Will Metcalfe
A row has broken out after North Tyneside Council revealed the cost of visitors' parking permits has rocketed from [pounds sterling]50 to [pounds sterling]250 per year.
Visitors to the seafront at Tynemouth will face a 500% price rise for parking along the seafront, with the exception of Tynemouth Front Street, as part of an overhaul of parking permits.
Not only will charges rise from [pounds sterling]50 to [pounds sterling]250 but the permits will be transferable, meaning they can be used in multiple vehicles and visitors have been given the option between nine and 12 months permits.
But despite the variations the opposition Conservative group has launched a scathing attack on the changes.
Group leader Councillor Judith Wallace said: "This is a staggering increase, which must put North Tyneside in the record books for all the wrong reasons.
"It is yet another attack on the coast, where parking charges have already soared this year. I fear it will deter many regular visitors, who come for clubs and to support our businesses."
But North Tyneside Council said the move will bring the charges in line with other areas and would be the equivalent of [pounds sterling]5 per week.
The council argued someone visiting the coast for ten hours or more per week will save around [pounds sterling]374 per year - whereas parking using council meters would be [pounds sterling]1.20 per hour.
But Councillor Alison Austin, who represents the Monkseaton North ward, said she fears drivers using side streets after being put off by the price of permits, and council car parks.
Councllor John Harrison, cabinet member responsible for housing and transport, said: "This permit still offers excellent value for money, with frequent visitors paying less than [pounds sterling]5 per week for unlimited parking at our award-winning coastline.
"Although the charge is increasing, the old charge was disproportionately low compared to other parking permits in North Tyneside.
"This increase ensures permits are priced consistently across the borough, and helps towards the financial challenges faced by the council.
"The new features of the foreshore permit provide much greater flexibility to permit holders, especially the swimmers, dog walkers, clubs and groups that regularly visit our coast."
Changes to the existing foreshore permit scheme were originally proposed as part of North Tyneside Council's 2015/16 budget efficiency plans, through which the authority is required to achieve around [pounds sterling]14m of savings.
The council has set a target of a [pounds sterling]230,000 increase in revenue for the parking budget, to be raised from increased charges and ongoing enforcement.
The new permits will come into force from January 18.
Councillor Judith Wallace, leader of the Conservative group on North Tyneside Council