On-street parking and car parks contribute to a substantial fiscal rebound, sparking concerns among critics
In a recent analysis by the AA, government data unveiled on Thursday has shown a stark rise in the surplus generated by English local councils from parking services during the fiscal year 2022/23, totalling £962 million. This substantial figure is composed of £673 million from on-street parking, coupled with £289 million from car parks.
The revenue surge is viewed in sharp contrast to the mere £318 million recorded in the preceding 12 months, a period heavily impacted by the travel restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic. In a throwback to the pre-pandemic era, the 2018/19 fiscal year saw councils raking in a surplus of £936 million, which included £364 million from car parks.
Jack Cousens, the AA’s head of roads policy, expressed his concerns by stating, “Once again, official statistics show that councils have turned parking into a huge cash cow, not just a service to stimulate local trade and support workers and visitors.” He further underscored the nearly £75 million or 20% plunge in the surplus from car parks as a worrying sign for councils already grappling with financial constraints.
The dive is partly attributed to the aftermath of Covid-19, with more people working from home and a general economic downturn. However, Cousens pointed out that the increase in parking charges by councils has also played a significant role, driving more shoppers to opt for online alternatives. He lamented, “In effect, many local authorities are killing the goose that lays the golden egg.”
On the flip side, a spokesperson for the Local Government Association, representing councils in England and Wales, defended the charges by stating, “Income raised through parking charges is spent on running parking services.” They emphasised that any surplus is channelled towards crucial transport projects including a £14 billion road repair backlog, alleviating congestion, combatting poor air quality, and bolstering local bus services. The spokesperson also advised motorists to evade fines by adhering to the established parking and traffic regulations, which are designed to ensure a smooth and safe parking experience for all.
The ongoing tussle between generating revenue and supporting local trade through parking services continues to be a focal point of discussion among stakeholders as councils navigate through the fiscal challenges posed by the pandemic aftermath. Story Source