Car park cash surplus in North Herts

PARKING charges which give councils thousands of pounds in revenue each year need to be reduced, according to a town centre manager.

North Hertfordshire District Council had a surplus of �353,000 for the last 12 months up to April 2012, and �464,000 for the year before from parking fees and charges after taking into account employee and running costs.

Corresponding figures compiled by the RAC Foundation for 2010-11 saw local authorities such as Central Bedfordshire and Norwich have a surplus of �16,000 and �67,000 respectively, while in Stevenage it was �1.79m. Capital costs are not included in the data.

Surpluses from on-street charges and on and off-street penalties can only be used for transport improvements although there are no such restrictions on income from off-street parking charges.

Letchworth town centre manager Lee Boswell said: “Parking charges are a bit of a hot potato at the moment with the government stating quite categorically that parking charges have a direct impact on the vitality of town centres.

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“We’ve seen the subject of parking form the major manifesto of local councils and it’s vital that North Herts District Council pays particular attention to the state of the nation and their town centres when deciding any future parking strategy.

“It’s time to look at reducing parking charges so it’s not always on an upward curve.”

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A spokesman for the RAC Foundation said: “Figures analysed by the RAC Foundation show the majority of local authorities in England generate a surplus from their parking activities.

“The data will confirm the suspicion among many motorists that councils are generating large amounts of revenue from charges and penalties. Even where huge ‘profits’ are absent, the picture is almost uniformly one of surplus and not deficit, with only 57 (15 per cent) of the 371 local authorities in England reporting negative numbers.”

Councillor Tom Brindley, portfolio holder for planning and enterprise at NHDC, highlighted that enforcing on-street parking is a non-profit service.

He added: “Last year the council invested around �340,000 in repairing, upgrading and renovating the car parks and their facilities across North Herts and intend to invest a further �800,000 in car park works this year.”

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