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Councils defend car park profits
LOCAL councils have defended the money they make from car parking amid concerns raised by the UK’s largest independent road safety charity.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has questioned the profits made by local authorities across in England, while claiming spending on road safety has been cut.
According to the IAM report, Worcestershire County Council turned a £39,000 deficit in 2010/11 into a £27,000 profit in 2011/12 and Worcester City Council saw an increase from £2,025,000 to £2,191,000.
The biggest increase was seen at Herefordshire Council, with the figure standing at £1,449,000, up from £467,000.
A Worcestershire County Council spokesman said they generate £28,000 a year from car park charges at Waseley Hills Country Park, Rubery, Birmingham, at an annual cost of about £1,000.
He added: “The income generated from car park charges is used in the maintenance of the country parks, picnic places and nature reserves that are managed by Worcestershire County Council’s Countryside Service.”
A Worcester City Council spokesman said they choose to run the car parks to help boost trade, while surplus funds are put into improving the service under Section 55 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
“Our parking team’s primary function is to ease congestion on the highways, helping to keep traffic in Worcester running smoothly and ensuring that our residents are not inconvenienced by inconsiderate and illegal parking.”
Bronwen Behan, portfolio holder for environmental services at MHDC, said she was unable to comment on the IAM’s figures because the council wasn’t involved in their calculation.
“Our car parks are not operated as a business to make profits. Charges for parking are made to cover the costs of providing car parks and to ensure effective turnover of available spaces.
“Any surpluses that do arise contribute toward the provision of other council services.”
Vic Allison, deputy managing director at Wychavon District Council, said the charges were an important part of their revenue as they helped “keep council tax down and protect services.”
Shane Hancock, community protection manager at Herefordshire Council, said only £243,000 could be accounted for by car parking charges, with the remainder coming from penalty charge notices and capital costs.
Mr Hancock said: “The £243,000 for parking was a result of the council increasing car parking fees across the county in November 2011, the first increase for three years.”