£4m – the cost of parking on the Fylde coast

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The amount of money Fylde coast councils made in car park fees has been revealed.

Figures released by the RAC Foundation yesterday revealed Blackpool Council brought in a £3.6m profit in parking fees in 2016/17, ranking 54th out of 353 councils across England.

While this is a slight fall compared to 2015/16 (£3.7m), the town has overall increased its revenue, from £2.9m in 2012/13.

Coun Mark Smith, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member responsible for parking, said: “One of the main reasons for the slightly reduced surplus is because a significant amount of capital expenditure was undertaken in our car parks during 2016/2017.

“Car park users expect their payments to be processed quickly and efficiently. We have reinvested around £140,000 in new equipment in some of our car parks to make the experience of using them better and hassle-free. This investment represents an increase of over 170% on the previous year.

“More sophisticated technology is gradually being introduced so that people can pay quickly and enjoy their time in Blackpool.”

Wyre Council saw the amount of money brought in by parking fees reduced - it brought in £154,000 in 2016/17, compared to £325,000 in 2015/16 and £481,000 in 2014/15.

Fylde Council, meanwhile, contested the RAC figures, which claimed some £347,000 in revenue was brought in by parking fees in 2015/16 and £365,000 in 2016/17.

A spokesman said: “In 2015/16 our income was £300,053 and in 2016/17 was £314,258. This was a 4.5 per cent increase in income despite there being no changes made to parking fees during this period.”

They added: “The surplus funds raised through the provision of off-street parking facilities are used to off-set the costs to the Council of providing services to the public (such as refuse collection and waste recycling, street cleansing, tourism services, parks maintenance, and housing services).

“Without these surplus funds, those costs would have to be met through council tax.”

Councils in England made a record £819 million overall from parking operations in 2016/17, some 10 per cent higher than the £744 million made in the previous year.

The largest surpluses were seen in London, with the boroughs making £379 million between them – 46 per cent of the English total.

Westminster topped the charts for the most money made through parking fees, raking in a huge £ 73,191 in 2016/17 - a £17,316 increase on profits made the year before.

While most councils made a surplus on their parking activities, 46 (13 per cent) reported negative numbers. North Yorkshire brought in the least revenue, and made a loss of £1.6m.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The upward path in profits is in part a reflection of the record number of cars and volume of traffic. The silver lining for drivers is that these surpluses must almost exclusively be ploughed back into transport and as any motorist will tell you there is no shortage of work to be done.

“We welcome the fact that councils are increasingly investing in technology to help make parking easier and less stressful.

“We urge motorists to take the time to read their own local authority’s parking report so they can see both the rationale for charges in their area and how the surplus is being spent.”

Wyre Council was approached for comment.