We’re running parking at loss, says council

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Latest community news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

A council has denied making profits from car parking charges and fees paid by motorists in Sudbury and Hadleigh.

A national survey has revealed that councils in the UK are making record sums of money from charging drivers to park, and collecting excess fees, which amounted to £594million in 2012/13.

Seven of the 10 UK councils raising the largest profits from car parking are in London, leading to criticism of paid-for parking being run as a means of generating income.

But Babergh District Council, which runs 26 car and lorry parks, including 12 in Sudbury and six in Hadleigh, says it is not one of the councils listed in the survey making any money from its parking operations and, in fact, claims to be running them at a loss.

A spokesman said the figures proved Babergh did not view car parking as a means of income generation.

The survey – compiled by The RAC Foundation – listed parking operations revenue for all English councils, excluding capital costs.

Councils are ranked from one to 353 with details on how much has been raised every year for the last five years.

Babergh is listed 330 out of 353 councils, ranked by how much money they make from car parking, with Babergh recording a loss in the 2012-13 financial year of £116,000.

Chris Fry, Babergh’s head of environment, said: “We recognise the importance car parking can have on the footfall and the economic viability of our market towns.

“We continue to try to strike the right balance between affordable, accessible parking and enforcement where appropriate.

“The figures produced by the RAC demonstrate that Babergh certainly doesn’t view car parking as a means of generating income.”

Babergh introduced long-stay parking charges at the Kingfisher Leisure Centre and at railway station car parks, both in Station Road, Sudbury, and also Magdalen Road car park in Hadleigh, in October 2010.

Last year, the council collected parking fines worth £87,000 in fixed penalty charges, ranging from £25 to £55.

Also mentioned in the rankings was Braintree District Council, which covers Halstead but does not have responsibility for the town’s car parks. It made a £451,000 surplus.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council earns the most of any council in Suffolk from its car parks with a surplus of £2.4million. It said it has a service agreement at Clare Country Park with Suffolk County Council where it collects the income generated through car parking, around £26,000 a year, and this goes towards grass cutting, playground inspections, ranger patrols and litter collections.