Councils rake in millions from parking

FEES Parking meters in Gopsort's main car park in South Street.
FEES Parking meters in Gopsort's main car park in South Street.

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COUNCILS have raked in almost £11.7m from motorists in the past year, The News can reveal.

Every hour about £1,335 is being taken from the pockets of drivers.

FINES A parking warden checking tickets in Clarendon Road, Southsea

FINES A parking warden checking tickets in Clarendon Road, Southsea

And every day in the Portsmouth area around 175 fines were handed out to drivers.

While councils say parking charges are an important source of income, motoring groups said drivers were having a hard time of it.

Ian Taylor, a national committee member of the Association of British Drivers, said: ‘It’s becoming so expensive and difficult to park.

‘We motorists should not be used as cash cows.

‘A certain amount of parking charges is inevitable and we are the first to admit you can’t just have a free-for-all.

‘Having said that the way charges keep going up is completely excessive.’

Council leaders argue they are hardly raking it in.

Portsmouth may have taken more than £6m last year – but up to £4.5m of that covered the cost of running the car parks, enforcement officers and administration.

Any surplus from off-street car parks goes into helping fund some vital council services, including education and social services.

Councillor Jason Fazackarley, who heads parking in the city, said: ‘This figure – in stark black and white – being over £6m is clearly a large amount.

‘In context with the city council’s annual gross budget of in excess of £550m it is clear that this amounts to circa one per cent of the council’s income.’

The trend with parking charges is for them to nudge up every two or three years.

In 2009, Portsmouth City Council added between 10p an hour to 30p an hour in dozens of locations.

In Gosport charges were introduced in January, with motorists having to pay 20p for an hour or 50p for two hours. In Petersfield charges rose by 10p in September.

Cllr Fazackarley said: ‘It may be fairer to compare the cost of parking in Portsmouth with other major cities on the south coast such as Bournemouth, Southampton and Brighton.

‘These cities offer similar shops and attractions to Portsmouth and our parking charges are very competitive in comparison to these.’

Councillor David Collins, who oversees parking in Havant borough, said parking revenue had become an important income source to keep council tax down, but denied councils were making massive amounts of cash.

The lifeblood of the parking restrictions is to keep traffic flowing and for safety, he said.

He said income from fines only covers the cost of having enforcement officers, whereas revenue from parking fees leaves a little surplus that can be used to help balance the books.

‘It might look like we get an awful lot,’ he said.

‘But quite a chunk of that goes on the administration of the parking services. It’s a major fund but we are not milking it.’

He said there was no incentive for smaller councils like Havant and Gosport to give out more fines as any surplus must be handed over to Hampshire County Council to spend on transport schemes – and every year there is hardly anything left over.

But Cllr Collins agreed parking charges may have reached their upper limit.

He said: ‘I think we have got to the point now where the rises have to be minimal.

‘There’s got to be a very good reason for it – not to make money to balance our books.’

To add to the confusion, motorists can expect to pay a different rate wherever they go. Parking for a couple of hours in Portsmouth city centre will set you back £2.60 at Isambard Brunel multi-storey, while two hours in Fareham is £3 at Market Quay car park.

In Havant you pay 60p for two hours at Civic Centre Road.

Gosport’s Tory leader Mark Hook said: ‘What a lot of people don’t realise is when the government do the grants they take into account the revenue the council can raise – part of that is car parking.

‘If we choose not to raise money through car parking, we are actually losing grant. It’s almost a double whammy.’

But he added: ‘I can give the reassurance to the public when I set the budget in February there will no increase in parking charges.’

But many motorists remain unconvinced parking charges need to be at their current levels – particularly as town centres struggle to cope against the free parking at out-of-town retailers.

Mr Taylor added: ‘You name it, we get hit by it – and it nearly always goes to the council or chancellor.

‘We really think we are getting a raw deal.’

EAST HAMPSHIRE

Income from meters

· 2008/2009 £1,112,307

· 2009/2010 £1,133,687

· 2010/2011 £1,130,764

· Projected 2011/2012 £1,178,000

Income from fines

· 2008/2009 £108,256

· 2009/2010 £73,097

· 2010/2011 £89,822

· Projected 2011/2012 £95,000

Council employed 2.5 enforcement posts for each year

TOTAL income from parking

· 2010-2011 £1,220,586

FAREHAM

Income from pay machines in Fareham off street parking

· 2008/09 £2,211,630

· 2009/10 £2,365,795

· 2010/11 £2,425,329

· Projection for 2011/12 £2,632,000

Income from on-street and off-street parking fines

· 2008-2009 £255,342.46

· 2009-2010 £304,108.80

· 2010-2011 £299,903.34

Number of fines given out

· 2008-2009 9,003

· 2009-2010 10,750

· 2010-2011 10,462

Total income from parking

· 2010-2011 £2, 725, 232

PORTSMOUTH

Income from on-street parking charges

· 2008-2009 £2,223,200

· 2009-2010 £2, 431, 282

· 2010-2011 £2,289,215

· Projected for 2011-2012 £2, 487, 591

Income from off-street parking charges

· 2008-2009 £2,274,378

· 2009-2010 £2,534,139

· 2010-2011 £2,351,276

· Projected for 2011-2012 £2,393, 550

Income from parking fines - on-street

· 2008-2009 £1,188,384

· 2009-2010 £1,284,484

· 2010-2011 £1,170,253

· Projected for 2011-2012 £1,113,417

Income from parking fines - off-street

· 2008-2009 £332,688

· 2009-2010 £281,132

· 2010-2011 £281,700

· Projected for 2011-2012 £267,926

Number of parking fines

· 2008/09 43,534

· 2009/10 44,020

· 2010/11 41,432

Number of enforcement officers

· 2008/09 37

· 2009/10 43

· 2010/11 39

TOTAL income

· 2010/2011 - £6,192,444

HAVANT

Income from off-street parking meters (no on-street parking meters in Havant borough)

· 2008-2009 £784,098

· 2009-2010 £792,709

· 2010-2011 £859,677

· Projected for 2011-2012 £808,100

Income from parking fines

· 2008-2009 £182,356

· 2009-2010 £186,181

· 2010-2011 £185,397

· Projected for 2011-2012 £181,500

Number of parking fines

· 2008-2009 7036

· 2009-2010 7003

· 2010-2011 7031

· Projected for 2011-2012 7500

12 enforcement officers working for each of those years.

TOTAL INCOME

· 2010/2011 £1,045,074

GOSPORT

Income from on-street and off-street parking fees

· 2008-2009 £398,209

· 2009-2010 £401,009

· 2010-2011 £441,180

· Projected for 2011-2012 £643,690

Income from parking fines

· 2008-2009 £38,120

· 2009-2010 £59,467

· 2010-2011 £66,592

· Projected for 2011-2012 £68,000

Number of parking fines given

· 2008-2009 1,243

· 2009-2010 1,631

· 2010-2011 2,203

· Projected for 2011-2012 1,079

Number of enforcement officers

· 2008-2009 12

· 2009-2010 12

· 2010-2011 9

TOTAL income from parking

· 2010-2011 £507,772