Park­ing charges raised £4m for coun­cil last year

Stockport Express - - News - EMMA CURRY [email protected]­plc.com @em­malouise­curry

STOCK­PORT coun­cil has earned more than £4m over the past year from the ‘stealth tax’ of park­ing charges.

Park­ing ser­vices in Stock­port raised £4.2m in rev­enue in 2017 to 2018, ac­cord­ing to Min­istry of Hous­ing, Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment data. Most of this came from coun­cil-run car parks, which made £3.1m in the past year.

Driv­ers paid the lo­cal author­ity a fur­ther £1.1m in on-street park­ing charges, such as pay and dis­play park­ing, res­i­dents’ per­mits and park­ing tick­ets. More than half of the in­come from on-street park­ing was raised through penalty charges for illegal park­ing.

Over­all, driv­ers in Stock­port paid an av­er­age of £12 per year in park­ing charges.

The AA claims that park­ing charges are a ‘cash cow’ for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and a stealth tax paid by driv­ers.

Coun Sheila Bai­ley in­sists that park­ing charges in Stock­port are ‘rea­son­able’, how­ever.

She added: “They range from 20p to 90p an hour and en­sure our car parks are well used by vis­i­tors and shop­pers alike.

“Funds raised from park­ing tar­iffs sup­port the ser­vice. If any sur­plus rev­enue is raised, this is used for the up­keep and main­te­nance of the car parks and the bor­ough’s road net­work.

“To place the £4.2m in­come raised from park­ing fees into con­text, last year the coun­cil in­vested £65m in im­prov­ing the bor­ough’s road and trans­port in­fra­struc­ture. Penalty Charge No­tices are is­sued to ve­hi­cles park­ing il­le­gally to en­hance the safety of other road users and to en­sure a con­sis­tent ap­pli­ca­tion of park­ing tar­iffs.”

Jack Cousens, AA head of roads pol­icy, said: “At a time of squeezed lo­cal author­ity bud­gets, driv­ers are not sur­prised to see that they are the cash cow coun­cil bosses turn to.

“Some coun­cils re­ceive mil­lions of pounds worth of park­ing charges ev­ery year and still con­tinue to in­crease their prices. The cost of park­ing should cover the cost of pro­vid­ing the ser­vice, not be­come a stealth tax

“With the con­tin­ued rise of on­line shop­ping, there may come a point where driv­ers forgo the high street en­tirely.

The Fed­er­a­tion of Small Busi­nesses’ na­tional chair­man Mike Cherry agreed, say­ing: “For small busi­nesses to thrive, cus­tomers should not be de­terred with high car park­ing charges which put the fu­ture of our high streets in jeop­ardy.”

●●Coun Sheila Bai­ley

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