Fareham Borough Council ‘targeting drivers’ to boost town hall coffers

CHARGES The car park at the 'Sacred Heart Church in Fareham offers motorists the chance to pay and display.
CHARGES The car park at the 'Sacred Heart Church in Fareham offers motorists the chance to pay and display.
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MOTORISTS have accused a council of targeting them after it raked in £2.4m in parking fees.

New figures reveal Fareham Borough Council made an extra £58,271 from its car parks last year.

This pushed the total parking income to £2,424,062 in the year to March.

It comes after the council last October increased its charges at long and short-stay car parks, as well as putting up fees on Sundays and in the evenings.

Council leader Sean Woodward defended the rise in parking income.

He said: ‘There probably won’t be a price rise for a couple of years.

‘All I can say is judge me by my actions. I have been leader for 12 years and I think I have put parking charges up six times in that period.’

The council has introduced a residents-only parking scheme for streets around the town centre in the past year which could have helped drive more vehicles into car parks.

Lorraine Waterman, from Ham Lane in Gosport, said: ‘We just come in and out now for fresh fruit and veg at the market. The parking fees do put us off.’

Her husband David added: ‘Putting the prices up is just typical of councils. I know they have a lot of outlays, but some times I don’t think the money raised from the parking is used in the right way. It’s all just cost, cost, cost to us.’

Jane Norman, from Elson in Gosport, added: ‘Market Quay is an expensive car park and they do make a lot of money out of us drivers.

‘We used to come on Sundays but not any more.’

And Jill Smith, of Wych Lane, Gosport, added: ‘The price of parking is appalling.

‘I don’t think it’s good value for money. And my friend is disabled, so even though we’re using a blue badge, we still have to pay to come to Fareham.’

But takings from on-street parking fines actually dropped. In 2009-10 the council took £304,108, but this year it was £241,337.

Cllr Arthur Mandry, who is in charge of public protection matters, said enforcing car parking should not be a burden on the taxpayer.

He added: ‘It’s not the purpose of parking enforcement to take more and more money each year. Its purpose is to reduce congestion, increase safety and encourage people to park properly.

‘If we did make a surplus, that money wouldn’t go back into council coffers. There are very strict rules about how it can be used.’

PARKING INCOME

· Off-street parking fees

2010/11: £2,424,062

2009/10: £2,365,791

· On-street parking fines

2010/11: £241,337

2009/10: £304,108

· Off-street parking fines

2010/11: £97,137

2009/10: £112,590

· Fareham council took over parking enforcement from the police four years ago.