Council doubles parking profits to £329,000

South Shields' Mile End Road car park

South Shields' Mile End Road car park

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South Tyneside saw the ‘profit’ from its parking operations more than double last year.

New figures from the RAC foundation show the borough council has a surplus of £329,000 for the financial year 2015-16, up from £155,000 the previous year.

A Council spokesman said: “Our parking charges are among the lowest in Tyne and Wear with a penny-a-minute rate for the first hour in the majority of our car parks.

“Car parking charges are not set with the aim of making a profit. Surplus money from parking revenue is re-invested back into highways and road safety as well as to improve and secure our car parks.

“The fact this surplus has been achieved without increasing parking charges is a resounding endorsement of our regeneration efforts to attract increasing numbers of people to our towns.

“The council has built a number of new car parks in South Shields town centre at the back of Fowler Street and behind Ocean Road, and introduced electric charging points at a number of sites.

“It is also worth pointing out that we have removed charges and created more than 300 new free spaces across car parks at the back of Ocean Road, St Hilda’s at Crossgate and at the Customs House which are just a short walk from the town centre. Pay and display meters have also been removed in River Drive and the all-day parking fee behind Fowler Street has been reduced from £3 to £2.

“We recently offered free parking as part of the Small Business Saturday initiative and are currently offering free after 3pm in the run-up to Christmas and all day on Sundays in December.”

The RAC Foundation report shows the surplus produced from council parking operations in England has reached a record high of just over three quarters of a billion pounds.

In 2015-16,the 353 local authorities in England generated a combined ‘profit’ of £756million from their on- and off-street parking activities - a nine per cent leap on the 2014-15 figure of £693million, and 34% higher than in 2011-12.

These numbers might seem eye-wateringly large, but in part they reflect the growing competition for space in many of our towns and cities.

Steve Gooding

Foundation director Steve Gooding said parking was a compromise between the drive to attract people into towns and cities and the need to keep the roads reasonably clear: “These numbers might seem eye-wateringly large, but in part they reflect the growing competition for space in many of our towns and cities.

“In 1995 there were only 21.4million cars on Britain’s roads, today there are 30.7million.

“Parking charges are one of the tools councils use to keep traffic moving while also allowing people reasonable and affordable access to shops and facilities.

“The good news is any profit generated by councils from on-street parking must, by law, be spent on transport-related activities and, as every motorist knows, there’s no shortage of work that needs doing.”

The figures are calculated by taking income from charges and penalties, then deducting the costs of the service.