£1.4m a year surplus from St Albans parking charges YOU pay

Parking machine at Westminster Lodge in St Albans

Parking machine at Westminster Lodge in St Albans - Credit: Archant

PROFITS from parking charges helped St Albans district council rake in more than £1.4 million over a 12-month period, new figures show.

A report from the RAC Foundation based on government data found the council made a surplus of £1,461,000 in 2011/12 from its on and off-street parking operations before deducting capital costs.

This was on top of the £1,524,000 collected in the previous year and a further £1,317,000 boost to its coffers during 2009/10.

In 2011/12 across the country 359 local authorities had a total current account surplus of £565 million, with St Albans ranking in 104th position.

The council is responsible for 32 car parks, including 13 pay-and-display, as well as 27 Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs).

Mike Lovelady, head of legal, democratic and regulatory services for the council, said: “The council provides parking as a service for the community and manages it in the interests of residents, businesses and visitors.

“The surplus as specified in the RAC Foundation’s figures relates in effect to the management of our car parks only, as our on-street parking service operates at a loss.

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“There are no restrictions on the way that we can spend the surplus from the management of our car parks.

“This surplus is spent on services for the community, for example leisure, maintenance of parks and refuse collection.”

Mr Lovelady went on: “There are restrictions on the use of any surplus from on-street parking controls, but the council has not made any surplus from this activity for a number of years.

“Overall, we spend more on enforcement activities than we receive in income from permits within CPZs, paid-for on-street parking and parking fines.”

At present the council is looking to renew its contract with National Car Parks Limited (NCP) which operates 11 of its pay-and-display car parks, and its car parking enforcement contract for on and off-street parking with NSL Service Limited (NSL).

They have outlined as part of these discussions there would be an opportunity for negotiations to take place over parking charges and the introduction of parking technologies.

Commenting on the new data, Cllr Beric Read, portfolio holder for localism and community engagement, said: “That is a yearly figure so that doesn’t include a few years having to do major maintenance work.

“We have to build the car parks and pay for maintenance work and that figure doesn’t include any of these things.

“We have not been putting our charges up. I know some councils have been putting them up to pay for bills and things.

“We are taking the view that parking is a service.”

He added: “I think the charges are reasonable and hopefully they will stay so.”