Council’s £1.4m fines profit

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WIGAN Council made an annual profit of £1.4m from charging folk to park and issuing fines.

Figures released by the RAC Foundation show that in 2014/15, the authority achieved a surplus of £1.39m from ticket machines and fixed penalty notices.

The financial sums involved in local authority parking are huge and the overall profits eye-watering

Steve Gooding

And the amount is getting bigger, the profit having been £476,000 in 2010/11, £797,000 in 2012/13 and £1.078m for the next 12 months.

The latest figure puts Wigan Council in the top third of authorities making gains from parking charges and punishments. It stands 118th out of 353 areas.

Emma Barton, Wigan Council’s assistant director for economic development and skills, said: “Council-operated parking has grown over recent years which has contributed to the rise in revenue.

“Increasing our parking provision is vital to drive forward our economic development.”

Nationally, councils in England generated a combined profit of £693m from their day to day, on and off street parking operations. This shows a four per cent increase on the 2013/14 amount of £667m.

Although not all councils made a large surplus, few lost money on their parking activities. Just 57 of the 353 local authorities in England reported negative numbers.

The figures are calculated by taking income from parking charges and penalty notices, then deducting running costs. The rise in profits is accounted for by an increase in parking income rather than a reduction in running costs (which were in line with the previous financial year).

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The financial sums involved in local authority parking are huge and the overall profits eye-watering. And once again the year-on-year direction of travel is upwards.

“It is unsurprising that London leads the way in making money. Its roads are most congested and the pressure on road space immense. The legal position is that parking charges are to be used as a tool for managing traffic. But with local government budgets under ever-greater pressure the temptation to see them as a fund-raiser must be intense.

“The precarious financial state of many councils is a genuine concern, not least when it comes to the risk of a cut in road maintenance spending which will hit every one of us.

“A funding solution requires national and local government to look beyond the High Street parking meter.”