CHARGES have been suspended in car parks in neighbouring North-East council areas.

The gesture in County Durham and Sunderland will free up spaces for health and other key workers during the Covid-19 crisis, also negating the need for attendants to be on duty.

The gesture will also help with the movements of people picking up food and medication for both themselves and vulnerable residents.

In County Durham charges have been waived at all council on and off-street bays.

Councillor Carl Marshall, council cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “Although we are closing our park and ride services, we have waived the fees at our car parks across the county, including in Durham City, to ensure key workers can park easily and for free.

“Earlier this month, we also made the car park at County Hall available to University Hospital North Durham staff should they need it.”

Sunderland City Council announced the suspension until further notice.

Free parking is available in all council-run multi-storeys and bay parking across Wearside, totalling about 2,500 spaces.

There are more than 1,500 council spaces in the city centre, almost 500 of them at St Mary’s multi-storey.