PARKING charges are set to increase by up to 60 per cent in Durham when delayed measures to free up space in the city centre come into effect on Monday.

The changes will also include the introduction of contactless payments, which means motorists will no longer need cash and will not have to prepay for parking.

Durham County Council says the increases, which it described as “generally” in line with inflation, are necessary to cover the transaction costs of the contactless payments.

On-street parking on several roads will increase by 60 per cent while car park charges will also rise.

Durham Markets manager Colin Wilkes said: “No increase in parking is ever welcome but the changes so you don’t pay in advance for a set amount of time is positive – at least people won’t have to be rushing back to their cars.

“It’s a shame it’s come with an increase in parking as well but that’s possibly the price we pay for having popular on-street parking.”

Tariffs at The Sands car park will increase by 20p per time band and Sidegate by 40p per visit while Providence Row car park will be brought in line with nearby on street parking, which is 30p per half hour.

On Sundays, charges at The Sands and Sidegate will be brought in line with the rates during the week in a bid to free up spaces.

Charges for street parking in Crossgate, Allergate, South Street, Old Elvet and Claypath/Gilesgate will increase from 50p to 80p while at Oswald Court it will go up from 30p to 50p.

Dave Wafer, the council’s traffic manager, said: “The changes we are making will make arrangements at some of our sites easier for motorists to understand, increase flexibility and create more short stay parking in the city for our residents.

“We had a number of people asking us why they could only pay for parking by cash while city centre residents with permits often tell us that they cannot park near their homes because spaces are taken up by visitors. The changes we have made look to address both these points.”

“Where charges have gone up we have tried to keep the increase in line with inflation and it is worth stressing that these changes apply only to certain sites. On-street parking is available at a number of other locations and we do offer park and ride for just £1.70 a day.”