Call for a shake-up of car parking system in Lancashire

Coun Peter Wilson in Chorley

Coun Peter Wilson in Chorley

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Changes should be made to cut the cost of car parking operations across Lancashire.

That is the view of County Coun John Fillis, the cabinet member responsible for highways and transport at Lancashire County Council.

He said: “It would be better if there was a unified structure across Lancashire.

“It’s something we have discussed with the various authorities and I hope to take these discussions further.

“I think it would save us all a lot of money.”

His comments come as figures from the RAC Foundation show Lancashire County Council is losing £90,000 a year from its parking operations.

But the study shows the deficit for 2013-14 was much smaller than in previous years.

It says the authority had losses of £334,000 in 2012-13, £269,000 in 2011-12 and £253,000 in 2010-11.

County Coun Fillis said it was important to get the balance right when managing car parking.

He said: “Our parking enforcement officers are out on the streets. If they increase the number of fines they put out, it reduces our costs.

“We could say they are not fining enough people or we could say the drivers are parking sensibly and not overstepping their times.”

The council was among the top 20 in England, outside London, for the amount of money it receives from on-street penalty charges.

It collected £1.6m, the same as the previous year.

County Coun Fillis said its position in the top 20 was due to the size of the area.

The county council is responsible for two on-street pay-and-display car parking schemes in Preston and Lancaster, parking enforcement on roads across the county and resident parking schemes.

It also administers off-street parking for Lancaster, Wyre and South Ribble councils.

The study showed South Ribble Council recorded a loss of £34,000 in 2013-14.

Again, the deficit was smaller than in previous years, as the authority had £59,000 losses in both 2012-13 and 2011-12 and £2,000 loss in 2010-11.

However, other councils are making money from car parking, with Preston City Council making £790,000 in 2013-14, according to the figures.

It made £764,000 in 2012-13, £716,000 in 2011-12 and £971,000 in 2010-11.

The study says Chorley Council made £444,000 in 2013-14, compared to £494,000 in 2012-13, £601,000 in 2011-12 and £405,000 in 2010-11.

Coun Peter Wilson, deputy leader of Chorley Council, said: “We introduced the free 30-minute on-street parking in Market Street and part of Fleet Street car park, and free parking after 1pm every Saturday. We did this first as a trial after listening to traders and it proved such a huge success in increasing visitor numbers to the town, we’ve now made it permanent.”

The report also says that parking operations in 2013-14 made £319,000 in Wyre, £1.6m in Lancaster, £303,000 in Fylde, and £349,000 in West Lancashire.