Should councils make profit from parking charges


Shane Brennan

DENBIGHSHIRE Council made £1.4 million from parking charges in the last year – the second highest figure in North Wales.

Of all the councils in North Wales, Gwynedd made the largest profit from the fines reaching £2 million, new figures have revealed.

Denbigh councillor, Colin Hughes, believes councils in Wales are using parking fines as a way of making money.

Cllr Hughes said: “The unfortunate thing is that local authorities tend to view parking as an income stream first and a traffic calming measure second which is not the way it should be.

“I believe that consideration should be given to more free parking schemes if not abolishing charges altogether.

“Our high street traders are fighting a battle at the moment and we need to encourage people into our towns.”

Gwynedd Council made a profit of £804,000 in 2012- 13.

Denbighshire profited to the tune of £677,000, according to figures released by RAC, but that represented a fall in profits compared with the previous financial year; the council generated £741,000 in 2011-12 and £740,000 in 2010-11.

Cllr Hughes added: “While economic figures show growth in jobs it’s well known that recessions tend to hit outlying areas harder and longer.

“While there are green shoots of recovery these need to be encouraged and supported by the local authority rather than carrying on business as usual using parking a s a cash cow.

“The problem is officers don’t want to lose this income and will put forward a case to councillors that will ultimately lead to no movement on parking charges.

“It’s a shame that unfortunately the officers are the ones that ultimately hold the power in Denbighshire.”

In Wales the 22 councils made a total profit of £8.7 million in the 2012-13 financial year.

A Denbighshire Council spokeperson  said: “Our parking activities generates a surplus of approximately £600k per annum. This surplus goes directly back into highway maintenance - so in other words, if we didn't generate this surplus, thecouncil would have to find an extra £600k from elsewhere, or spend £600k less on maintaining the roads every year.

“This surplus is almost wholly attributable to car park pay and display income.

“The income generated from payment of fines (Penalty Charge Notices) only generates enough to pay for the cost of providing the enforcement service itself e.g. staff costs and associated overheads for accommodation, uniforms, equipment etc.”

People in Denbigh had their say on the issue.

Chris Morris, aged 23, from Denbigh “It is too much, the fines should be lower. It’s just a money raising exercise. If there was out of town parking I would go for that rather than shop in town.”

Edward Williams, aged 79, from Henllan “The parking in town is not bad at all you don’t get it cheaper than here. It’s only 10p and there’s always plenty of room.”

Denbigh town councillor Mark Young said: “If the council are going to profit from parking then the money should be given to town and community councils where the fine was charged.”

See full story in the Free Press

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