Council has £829k in surplus parking cash

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall
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Wigan Council was left with an £829,000 kitty from surplus parking revenue in a 12-month period, new figures have revealed.

However, figures released by the RAC Foundation showed the amount of money the local authority is ending up with from the borough’s car parks is also going down.

The town hall’s 2016-17 surplus was considerably down on the £1,127,000 surplus it had at its disposal in 2015-16 which was also a reduction on the £1,392,000 figure from 2014-15.

The last time Wigan Council did not end up with a surplus of £1m or more from parking revenue was in 2012-13, according to the statistics.

The figure recorded in the last financial year was the 178th highest in the country and Wigan Council assured the residents the money left over from the cost of maintaining the car parks was being spent wisely and being ploughed directly into relevant infrastructure work.

Paul Barton, assistant director for environment, said: “Any income raised through parking charges is spent on running parking services and any surplus is spent on essential transport projects.

“Having sufficient parking provision contributes to our ongoing economic development and ensures we fully support our town centres and local businesses.”

The research, done on behalf of the RAC Foundation by transport consultant David Leibling, was calculated by taking the income from parking charges and penalty notices and then deducting each council’s running costs.

Wigan’s reduction in surplus is also bucking the national trend as the amount of spare cash local authorities across the country had from their parking operations in 2016-17 was a 10 per cent leap on the previous year.

Income went up by six per cent and costs by two per cent during the 12-month period.

Surplus revenue across Greater Manchester varied wildly, with Rochdale Council ending up with just £28,000 to spend but Bury finishing the financial year with more than £1.3m at its disposal. Neighbouring St Helens had a £119,000 surplus.

Nationally Westminster had the largest surplus in the country with £73.2m, with the biggest amount outside the capital coming in Brighton and Hove which had £21.2m.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: ““The silver lining for drivers is that these surpluses must almost exclusively be ploughed back into transport and as any motorist will tell you there is no shortage of work to be done.

“We welcome the fact that councils are increasingly investing in technology to help make parking easier and less stressful.”

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, claimed councils must “strike a balance” when setting charges in a bid to ensure there are parking spaces available.

He said: “(Parking charges) help not only keep the roads clear but keep pedestrians, motorists and cyclists safe and ensure people can park near their homes and local shops.”

Mr Tett said examples of the sort of work the surplus revenue was used for were tackling the national £12bn roads repair backlog and creating new parking spaces.