Figures show councils are bringing in millions from parking charges

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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  • Report says car parking charges are bringing in up to £3m for local authorities
  • But councillors have defended cash saying it gets re-invested into parking
  • Portsmouth City Council had parking operations surplus of £3.09m
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COUNCILLORS have defended the money authorities are making from car parking charges.

A report by the RAC Foundation found some councils in this area are receiving more than £1m a year from on and off-street parking operations.

The figures are calculated by taking income from parking charges and penalty notices, then deducting running costs.

The figures showed that Portsmouth City Council has a parking operations surplus for the 2014/15 financial year of £3.450m.

Fareham council had the second highest figure of £1.2m, with Havant and Gosport bringing in a total of £477,000 and £411,000 respectively.

East Hampshire District Council saw an income of £1.06m while Hampshire County Council was the only authority in the area to see a deficit, of £28,000.

But councillors have said the figures recorded cannot be seen as the total profit made.

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham council, said: ‘That money is not all profit. We spend it on re-surfacing the car parks and replacing meters.

‘The money shown is before we spend it so it cannot be considered a profit.

He added: ‘We do not charge for parking in the evenings in Fareham and we do not charge at all in our district shopping centres or the beaches.’

Portsmouth councillor Ken Ellcome, who is cabinet member for traffic and transportation, said the council has to run parking like a business. ‘The money we make, we have to spend on transport schemes,’ he said.

‘A lot of it goes on maintenance for car parks, staff and maintaining the machines.

‘That money has got to come from somewhere. If we can raise income rather than cut services, that is a good thing.’

He added: ‘No-one is forcing people to use the pay-and-display meters.

‘There are other options out there.’

Gosport council leader Mark Hook said there has to be a balancing act.

‘The £400,000 we make is the equivalent to an eight per cent rise in (the borough council’s share of) council tax,’ he said.

‘It is a balancing act. We want to make sure that we keep the parking charges as low as we can but at the same time, we need to balance the books.’

But some organisations have said motorists could feel they are being used as ‘cash cows’.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Small charges are sometimes necessary to manage our roads but motorists will simply feel like they are being used as cash cows for the council. There are already sky high taxes on fuel and for owning a car so councils must be careful that they don’t heap even more misery onto hard-pressed taxpayers.

‘What’s also crucial is that Hampshire’s politicians don’t see these kinds of charges as a way to plug gaps in the finances, instead of taking decisions to cut out non-essential services.’

THE FIGURES

MOST councils have seen their income from parking charges increase year-on-year.

Portsmouth City Council:

2014/15 - £3.450m

2013/14 - £2.979m

Fareham Borough Council:

2014/15 - £1.2m

2013/14 - £1.09m

Gosport Borough Council:

2014/15 - £411,000

2013/14 - £408,000

Havant Borough Council:

2014/15 - £477,000

2013/14 - £438,000

East Hampshire Council:

2014/15 - £1.06m

2013/14 - £947,000

Hampshire County Council:

2014/15 - -£28,000

2013/14 - £96,000