March 7 2014 Latest news:
Monday, December 23, 2013
The different approaches taken to parking charges by councils in north Essex have been laid bare by new figures.
While Colchester Borough Council generated more than £1.7million in profits from on and off-street parking activities in the last financial year 2012-13, neighbouring Tendring District Council lost £70,000.
The data underlines the financial impact of Tendring Council’s decision to issue every council tax-paying household with a free parking permit in 2012 while Colchester Council has made substantial profits from drivers using the three multi-storey car parks that it operates.
The figures come from the annual returns that local authorities make to the Department for Communities and Local Government, and includes charges, penalties and expenditures but not capital costs.
At Tendring, interim leader Paul Honeywood, said parking has been kept free to encourage people to stay in the district for shopping and days out. “The pre-permit scheme has been very successful for the district and I would like to see it continue for another year,” he said.
“I don’t believe motorists should be a cash cow for local councils – you just end up scaring business away.
“Our approach is to encourage people to visit our district and to help people who live here.”
Colchester Council has also seen some of its parking profits eroded as it has promoted special offers to motorists.
While its profits were £1.7m last year, that is a drop of around £500,000 on the profits made from parking in the borough four years ago.
The council’s portfolio-holder for business and resources, Paul Smith, said: “Profits are down because we are doing more special offers.”
Mr Smith said the profit figures appeared to be high for Colchester because they do not factor in capital costs and the council has been spending money on refurbishing some of its car parks in recent years.
Over in the Braintree district, the council has seen profits from parking double to £450,000 in four years.
According to the portfolio-holder for prosperity and growth, Chris Siddall, the upturn is due to efficiencies that have come from better management of its car parks.
For example, it is part of the North Essex Parking Partnership, which involves Braintree, Colchester and Uttlesford sharing management costs.
Mr Siddall added: “We have set the parking charges at a level that we think is affordable. It does make a difference where that level is pitched in terms of encouraging more people into towns.”