CONTROVERSIAL new parking zones in Southsea raked in almost £1,000 a day from fines within their first month.
Figures from Portsmouth City Council have revealed that between January 2 and February 3 a total of 811 penalty notices were issued in the MB and MC residents’ parking zones (RPZs).
Fines were given to any cars without permits that parked in the zones during their restricted periods of 4pm to 6pm in MB and 5pm to 7pm in MC.
Motorists who received a notice were hit with £70 fines, that are reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days — totalling at least £28,000 in the first month.
Between January 2 and 8 warning notes were initially issued with enforcement starting on January 9. However, four penalties were given before that date as drivers had already been issued warnings.
The council’s head of transport, Councillor Lynne Stagg, explained why fines were given. She said: ‘We enforce parking zones to ensure residents can park when they need to. We are not doing this to make money.
‘After taking into account the cost of enforcement and other parking-related costs, any residual income goes into the Parking Reserve, the spending of which is governed by the Road Traffic Regulation Act.
‘Parking zones and their restrictions are clearly signposted. If people don’t have a permit to park within a parking zone, they shouldn’t park there.’
However, some homeowners believed the permits, and fines, were a way to generate cash.
Barry Kewell, 69, who runs the Northcote Hotel in Francis Avenue within the MC zone, said: ‘In the beginning, as far as I'm concerned, they were just another stealth tax to get money from people.
‘It will be interesting to see what they are planning to spend the money on because all it seems to be is a money-making scheme. It’s just an easy means of taxing people.’
His neighbour, 68-year-old Paul Smith agreed. ‘The permits are a money-making scheme, it’s a tax,’ he said.
‘It is easier to park here now if you can get back between 5pm and 7pm. I can usually get a space close to my home. But if you are trying to park outside of those hours it is still difficult.’
Jerry Brown, admin of the Portsmouth Politics Facebook page and member of the East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum, added: ‘It’s public knowledge that money from on-street parking fines goes towards making up the (deliberate) shortfall in the off-street budget and then that gets transferred into the general fund.
‘I believe that the people who pay the taxes in Portsmouth should be told the truth; it is a fact that whilst the council claims that it doesn’t raise money from parking fines, actually, it does. I’d rather see the money spent on surveying residents and implementing RPZs where they are needed, when they are needed.’
Permits currently cost £30 for one vehicle, £100 for a second and £590 for a third. Prices are due to go up in 2020.
'Our businesses are suffering because of parking zones'
FOR some residents' parking zones have had an affect on more than just parking accessibility.
Steve Noaks, 71, who runs Volkswagen restoration garage Bugs 'n' Buses in Delamere Road said the implementation of the MC zone had caused issues with his business.
'The problem is last time the zone was put in I was given permits for customer vehicles,' he said.
'This time they have given me four permits at £30 each, which I am happy to pay for, but they are only for six days a week and only until 6pm. The restriction is from 5pm to 7pm.
'That means I either have to move them far away or find room for them in my garage as my customers can't come to collect them by then. Many of my customers used to drop their vehicles off on a Sunday evening but they can't do that either because of the limited permits.
'This is harming my business. I'd say by the end of the year I will have 20 per cent less customers.'
He added: 'A lot of people haven't noticed the charges for permits went up this year and are going up again next year. I think the increase is definitely a money making exercise.'
Pub landlord, Barry Kewell, agreed. The 69-year-old, who works in Francis Avenue, said: ‘My business has definitely been impacted, especially on football days. Normally after a game the pub is rammed. It’s still fairly busy but you can definitely see a difference.
'The problem is they have to get back to their cars by 5pm as that’s when the restrictions start. Or they just can't get back by that time anyway so they don't come to the pub before either.
'I've been speaking to shop owners in Albert Road. A lot of staff now have to finish work early to get back to their cars before restrictions start. I remember when the council was saying it was going to do everything it could to protect retail streets.'