Profit from parking fees raises more questions

Objector to parking charges in Brighouse.
Objector to parking charges in Brighouse.

More than £1 million has been made from parking charges in Calderdale, campaigners have claimed

All local authorities are required to submit details of their finances to the Department of Communities and Local Government, following a detailed set of rules prepared by the department each year.

For the year 2011 to 2012 Calderdale Council made a profit of £1,298,000 according to the report produced by RAC Foundation.

This figure has ranked Calderdale in 118th position from 370 authorities in England.

Lesley Adams who is protesting against the introduction of parking charges on three free car parks in Brighouse town centre said she wanted answers.

“The council keeps saying they are introducing these charges to make the car parks self sustaining, how much more self sustaining can they get than making a profit of £1,298,000. Where is this money going? By adding on these parking charges they will be raising more revenue and the point of parking charges is to relieve congestion of traffic.

“Parking is fine in Brighouse and it works here very well. This figure makes a mockery of what the council is saying. How much more sustaining do they want it to be?”

Councillor Scott Benton (Con, Brighouse) who has also been campaigning to keep the free car parking spaces said the council has made a profit of £1,29million from hard-pressed motorists.

“With the extra charges that the council has proposed over the next few years (an extra £600,000 through a ‘Parking Services Review’ and then an across the board increase in charges of £403,000 will take effect from 2014/15), this figure will soon rise to well over £2million per year.

“Despite claims to the contrary, the council is clearly using motorists as a source of extra revenue - this would appear to be contrary to the law which clearly states that councils cannot use parking charges to fund general expenditure. These charges are bad for local traders and bad for our high street.

“Despite claiming that they want to support the local economy, the Council leadership seem determined to do everything in its power to undermine the success of Brighouse town centre. First they removed the funding for our Christmas lights, now parking charges – when will they stop?”

Geoff Willerton, Calderdale Council’s Head of Planning and Highways, said: “The figure of £1,298,000 does not only relate to money raised through parking charges. The figure is from our annual accounts and covers the whole parking service in 2011/12 - in other words, revenue from things like parking charges, fines, permits, contracts, rent and event management - minues all service charges.”

He said the revenue from car parks helped cover the cost of maintaini ng them and keeping them safe and clean.