West Norfolk Council cash surplus from parking falls
There has been a significant fall in the amount of money West Norfolk Council makes from its parking operations, according to new figures.
Data released by the RAC Foundation says the authority recorded a surplus of £2.707 million during the 2017-18 financial year.
But that is down around seven per cent, approximately £150,000, on the previous year’s total of £2.902 million.
And officials have admitted they are also being hampered by discounts offered at a town centre site which is run by a commercial competitor.
The foundation’s study, which it says is based on figures given by councils to central government, lists West Norfolk in 78th position, out of more than 350 councils in England, for the surplus made from its parking operations.
Only Norwich City Council among Norfolk’s seven district authorities, recorded a higher surplus during the last financial year.
Although officials had not commented on the reasons for the fall in revenue at the time of going to press, the borough council has conceded that its returns are being affected by an “early bird” discount offered at the NCP car park in Church Street,.
The offer undercuts charges for the council-run long stay car parks, such as Boal Quay and Common Staithe Quay, for drivers who turn up before 9am.
The foundation says that, of the 353 councils it surveyed, only 39 do not make a profit from car parking.
That list includes Breckland, where parking is currently free, and losses rose from around £194,000 to £212,000 during the 2017-18 financial year.
Overall, however, the foundation says authorities are making nearly a third more now than they were four years ago.
Director Steve Gooding said: “When totted up council parking income amounts to a multi-million-pound business.
“Our purpose in publishing this analysis is not to suggest the existence of any sharp practice, but to encourage motorists to seek out and read their own local authority’s annual parking report - and ask some pointed questions if their authority doesn’t publish one.
“We think it is important that motorists check for themselves whether their own council’s explanation of the level of charges, penalties and details of how the net income is then spent reflects, as it should, the use of parking controls purely as a tool to manage traffic.”