Council pockets millions from parking

File pic - A Scarborough Council Parking Attendant working in The Crescent.   093357v      'pic Andrew Higgins 14/08/09     'in News'ticket 'car parking 'civil enforcement officer'warden
File pic - A Scarborough Council Parking Attendant working in The Crescent. 093357v 'pic Andrew Higgins 14/08/09 'in News'ticket 'car parking 'civil enforcement officer'warden

Scarborough Council accumulated record profits from parking fees and fines, with motorists footing a £7.1 million bill in the last year.

Scarborough Council accumulated record profits from parking fees and fines, with motorists footing a £7.1 million bill in the last year.

A new report published by motoring firm RAC shows that charges and penalties paid in the borough lead to £3.5 million in profit for the council, an increase of just under one per cent on the figures for 2013/14.

The news comes the same week as the council revealed it was looking to introduce winter parking charges in its car parks, as well as raising existing charges, to raise £300,000.

A report, which will go before the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, ask councillors to implement charges at Marine Drive, Scalby Mills, Victoria Park and Northstead from November to February.

All these car parks are usually free in the winter months, and it is estimated that 40,000 people use the car parks for free each year.

Bulging profits come as local councils remain under intense pressure to balance their accounts in the face of substantial grant funding cuts from Whitehall.

Describing as “eye-watering” the overall profits generated by local authority parking, Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The legal position is that parking charges are to be used as a tool for managing traffic. But with local government budgets under ever-greater pressure the temptation to see them as a fundraiser must be intense.

“The precarious financial state of many councils is a genuine concern, not least when it comes to the risk of a cut in road maintenance spending which will hit every one of us. A funding solution requires national and local government to look beyond the High Street parking meter.”

The RAC’s analysis is based on figures returned to the Department for Communities and Local Government by local councils. The figures were calculated by taking income from parking charges and penalty notices, then deducting running costs.

Parking profits from local councils in London contributed the most (44 per cent) to the national surplus and in Yorkshire, Leeds City Council recorded the biggest profit, some £7.2 million, compared to £6.8 million the year before.

Profits were next highest in the region in York (£5.5m), Scarborough (£3.5m), Sheffield (£2.5m) and Harrogate (£2.1m), with none of the area’s local authorities among the 57 councils that reported negative numbers.

The overall profit rise is accounted for by increased parking income and not reduced running costs, the RAC said.

Scarborough’s profits from parking put it in 46th place out of all the local authorities in England and Wales.

York Council’s head of transport, Tony Clarke, said its revenue was bound to be high as seven million people visit the city annually, and that significant variances occur year to year due to the weather and major events, such as the Tour de France or St Nicholas Christmas Fair.