Millions pocketed through council parking charges

With almost nine million pounds pocketed by Lancashire's councils through parking related charges in the last financial year, TOM EARNSHAW breaks down where the money comes from and where it goes once it leaves your wallet.

Monday, 27th November 2017, 5:07 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:50 am
A penalty notice issued for illegally parking.

We’ve all done the frantic dash to the car – arms weighed down with heavy shopping bags – where you’ve risked putting only one hour of parking on your car’s windscreen, not wanting to pay for a second and hoping the parking warden is a little behind on his ticket checks.

But whether you beat the looming warden or not, for Lancashire’s councils, a combination of parking and penalty charges, and parking permits, has seen them rake in a surplus of almost nine million pounds in the last financial year.

It means that in the last five years, surplus income has risen by a third (33 per cent), from £6,634,000 to £8,887,000.

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Parking meter.

The data, from The RAC Foundation, finds that Lancashire County Council made a profit of £694,000 in 2016/17.

A county council spokesman said: “The main aim of parking management is not to make a profit but to minimise disruption from illegal parking and keep our roads moving so that people can get to work, and easily visit our town and city centres for shopping and other services.

“Revenue from parking pays for the cost of operating the service, and the law requires that when parking generates a surplus, it is always reinvested in the county’s transport infrastructure.”

For Preston Council, a surplus of £712,000 was filed for 2016/17.

Breakdown of parking profits for councils across Lancashire.

Coun Peter Moss said: “The quoted figures are significantly reduced by capital charges and staff costs. Any surplus is used to support the provision of valuable council services, such as benefits advice, and parks and open spaces.”

At Chorley Council, £387,000 was pocketed in 2016/17. Council leader Alistair Bradley said: “We’ve been offering more free and cheaper parking to bring in more visitors and support our town centre traders so that’s why the income is going down.

“Any money we raise through parking is generally spent on the car parks whether that’s through maintenance or improving the offer with services like our trial park and ride.”

South Ribble Council took home £7,000 in profits. Coun Graham Walton said: “Any income we generate from receiving parking fines is simply injected back into the service: maintaining, running and staffing our car parks.

Parking meter.

"The ‘RinGo’ app we’ve introduced also allows drivers to top-up their parking while they’re out and about, helping them to avoid fines and having to ‘hurry back’.”

A spokesman for Fylde Council disputed their figures, stating that for 2016/17 their books show a surplus of £300,530.

They said: “The surplus funds raised through the provision of off-street parking facilities are used to off-set the costs to the Council of providing services to the public. Without these surplus funds, those costs would have to be met through Council Tax.”

Breakdown of parking profits for councils across Lancashire.