When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Anger over level of parking income across England
PARKING charges and fines are likely to net Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council more than £1.1million during the current financial year.
The Conservative-run authority’s surplus – after costs – is predicted to hit £1.116m this year, up £90,000 from £1.026m in 2012-13.
Across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, information gathered by the RAC Foundation predicts that town halls will net £16.3million in 2013-14 – up £849,000 on last year’s £15.4m.
The figure is the total income from all|parking charges and fines, minus the cost of administering the service and of parking patrols.
News of the expected income locally and nationally has prompted Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles to criticise local authorities.
l Continued on page 2 Focusing on a projected surplus of £635m across England, Mr Pickles said: “This municipal parking profit shows why we need to review and rein in unfair town hall parking rules.
“This Government has scrapped the last administration’s Whitehall rules, which told councils to hike up parking charges and adopt aggressive parking enforcement.
“But councils aren’t listening – and local shops and hard-working families are suffering as a result.”
Now Mr Pickles has vowed to crack down on “unfair town hall parking rules”, saying: “The law is clear that parking is not a tax or cash cow for town hall officers.”
The attack follows Mr Pickles’ call to allow free parking on double yellow lines for up to 15 minutes, a change likely to be blocked by the Liberal Democrats.
He is now believed to be drafting different policies to make it easier to park on the high street without fear of being given a ticket.
However, borough council leader Councillor Clive Sanders has hit back at Mr Pickles’ criticism – and the civic chief said he would be happy if the authority never had to issue another parking fine.
Cllr Sanders told The Gazette: “We do not have any ‘target’ for this figure, and our income from fines has actually reduced over the last few years. I would rather that we never had to issue another parking fine again!
“Parking fines in the council’s car parks and on-street are only paid by people who don’t have a valid parking ticket or flout residents’ parking or yellow line restrictions, causing annoyance or dangerous obstructions for other law-abiding motorists.”
Cllr Sanders added: “We do not use parking charges and fines as a ‘tax’ on the borough’s motorists to pay for other unrelated council services.
“Our aim is to keep council tax low and we do this by carefully balancing the money that all our residents pay against income from things like parking charges, as well as the money we get from commercial rents from our property and investments.
“Parking income is spent on paying for parking services, as well as general transport services such as parking improvements in residential areas, public transport subsidies, transport policy and strategy, and traffic management work, including lining and signing.”
Town hall leaders have asked ministers to let them raise fines for parking offences above the current £70 limit outside London.
Council budgets have suffered an unprecedented squeeze, after Mr Pickles agreed to a 33 per cent cut in Government grants, over four years.
In 2011, the Coalition Government scrapped guidance that allowed councils to set parking charges at a level which would encourage motorists to switch to public transport.
It was hoped town halls would introduce cut-price rates to boost the high street – but critics allege many went the other way and hiked prices.
Comments are closed on this article.