Car parking income is falling short
INCREASING car parking charges may not be helping to balance Highland Council’s books, according to a Lochaber councillor.
At the local authority’s community services committee meeting last Thursday, (November 5), Andrew Baxter, member for Fort William and Ardnamurchan, raised concerns that the projected earnings from increasing car parking charges has been lower than expected every year since financial year 2010/11.
He said: ‘We didn’t manage to reach the income we had budgeted for this year. In fact, we haven’t been able to reach the income in car parking we had budgeted for since financial year 2010/11 and yet every year since then we have increased fees.
‘In view of the fact we are considering putting up car parking charges again, I would say is this really sensible? It may be an easy option but that is smoke and mirrors if we haven’t actually been able to achieve it since 2010. I’m concerned if we continue like that it will begin to have a detrimental effect on our communities without actually any benefit to the council’s budget.’
Councillor Baxter also called for a review of the car park charging policy as part of Highland Council’s budget reviews.
The local authority is expected to have a shortfall of £250,000 on estimated income for car park charges this financial year.
William Gilfillan, director of community services, said the funding gap is a result of previous ‘pressures’ being carried into this year’s budget.
He added: ‘The team worked out what we could charge and put those into the budget and we’re confident those figures will materialise.’
CONCERNS: Andrew Baxter.