District council earns £1million in parking charges

PUBLISHED: 10:54 28 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:54 28 November 2018

Swan Meadow Car Park, Saffron Walden. Picture: SaffronPhoto

Swan Meadow Car Park, Saffron Walden. Picture: SaffronPhoto

SaffronPhoto 2016

Uttlesford District Council earned £1million over the past year in parking charges, figures show.

The AA says that parking charges are a “cash cow” for local authorities, and a “stealth tax” paid by drivers.

Council-run car parks brought in £1million in 2017-18, according to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data.

But overall, drivers in Uttlesford paid an average of just £3.19 per year in parking charges.

Jack Cousens, AA head of roads policy, said: “At a time of squeezed local authority budgets, drivers are not surprised to see that they are the cash cow council bosses turn to.

“Some councils receive millions of pounds worth of parking charges every year and still continue to increase their prices.

“With the continued rise of online shopping, there may come a point where drivers decide to forgo the high street entirely.

“The cost of parking should cover the cost of providing the service, not become a stealth tax paid by a few thousand who regularly visit the town.”

But the Local Government Association said that councils were “on the side of motorists and shoppers”.

Transport spokesman Councillor Martin Tett said: “Councils have to strike a balance when setting parking policy, to make sure that there are spaces available for residents, high streets are kept vibrant and traffic is kept moving.

He said that any income raised through parking charges is spent on running services, and that surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as “tackling our national £9billion roads repair backlog”.

He added that councils were “leading the way in transforming the future potential of their town centres” and that parking was only a part of a successful solution.

Over the year the council spent £424,000 on running, policing and maintaining parking services, meaning that they made a profit of £589,000 in 2017-18.

Total income from parking charges has risen slightly since 2016-17, when the council took £937,000 in revenue.

In England, a combined total of more than £1.6 billion was earned in parking revenue.

The top-earning council was Westminster, which took £88.8 million in parking charges over the year.

At the bottom was Breckland, East Northamptonshire and Broadland, with an income of just £1,000.

Uttlesford District Council has been contacted for comment.

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