Car parking raises £476,000 for Hartlepool Borough Council – should we pay to park?

Car parking at Seaton Carew . Picture by FRANK REID
Car parking at Seaton Carew . Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool’s council generated almost half-a-million pounds in council car parking charges last year, figures today reveal.

Statistics from the RAC Foundation show that £476,000 in total was generated by the town’s parking operation.

The figure is up from £342,000 on the previous year, but council chiefs say the rise is due to the council providing figures of income from staff using council parking spaces which are not usually included.

The amount generated by the council has generally fallen in previous years from 2010/11’s high of £510,000.

It puts the authority 201st out of 353 councils in England for the most revenue.

Council bosses said that the figure is £100,000 higher than what was actually generated from the public, as the statistics included charges to council staff for parking in council car parks.

The figures are calculated by taking income from parking charges and penalty notices, then deducting running costs.

A spokesman for the council said: “We had actually gone above and beyond what was required for the 2014/15 return to the Department for Communities and Local Government by including £100,000-worth of charges to our own staff for parking on council premises - rather than just including fees from the public - and it is this inclusion that has produced the bulk of the £134,000 increase in the 2014/15 table.

“It is also important to stress that the additional income generated by the local authority ends up being channelled back into services for local residents.”

The picture nationally is very much the same as the one in Hartlepool, with profits generated by all authorities reaching £693million from day-to-day, on and off-street parking.

It represents a 4% increase on the 2013/14 amount of £667million.

A total of £308million (44%) of the overall surplus total was generated by councils in London.

Although not all councils made a large surplus, few lost money on their parking activities.

Just 57 (16%) of the 353 local authorities in England such as Sunderland reported negative numbers.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The financial sums involved in local authority parking are huge and the overall profits eye-watering.

“And once again the year-on-year direction of travel is upwards.

“It is unsurprising that London leads the way in making money. Its roads are most congested and the pressure on road space immense.

“The legal position is that parking charges are to be used as a tool for managing traffic.

“But with local government budgets under ever-greater pressure the temptation to see them as a fund-raiser must be intense.

“The precarious financial state of many councils is a genuine concern, not least when it comes to the risk of a cut in road maintenance spending which will hit every one of us.

“A funding solution requires national and local government to look beyond the High Street parking meter.”