Blackpool council's £3.7m profit from car parks

Cash-strapped Blackpool Council made almost £4m from drivers parking in the resort last year, it can today be revealed.

Friday, 9th December 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:37 pm
Central Car Park, Blackpool.

The council’s surplus from parking charges and penalty notices has risen steadily in recent years – and far outstrips the amount raised by any other Lancashire authority.

Parking operations provide town hall bosses with a stream of income – £3.7m in 2015/16, up from £3m the year before – at a time when budget cuts are forcing them to make savings of £18.7m.

The figures, published today by the RAC, show motorists in the resort are among the biggest contributors to council coffers in the country.

Only one other Lancashire council makes a seven-figure sum from parking operations.

The amount brought in by charges and penalty notices according to the study rose from £3m the previous year and provides a significant income stream at a time when councillors are being forced to make £18.7m of cuts.

The RAC’s figures show that in Fylde the figure collected rose from £303,000 to £347,000 while in Wyre it fell from £481,000 to £324,000.

Preston collected £638,000 while Blackburn gathered £443,000 and Lancashire County Council £661,000.

Westminster council collected the most at £55.9m and rival seaside town Brighton collected £20,1m.

Fylde and Wyre Councils both queried the RAC’s figures, saying actual profits were lower than had been suggested.

Fylde Council said it made £300,535 in 2015/16, up from £259,827 in the previous 12 months.

A spokesman said: “This income is returned to the council’s general accounts and used to off-set the costs of other council services – costs that would otherwise need to be met by local council tax payers.”

Wyre Council did not provide a comment but said its ‘fuller’ figures showed profits fell from £204,521 to £139,828 last year.

In Blackpool, Coun Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Enterprise and Economic Development said: “The money the council receives from either car parking or parking fines is re-invested back into essential highway services.

“If we did not generate this income we would not be able to run the services that matter to local residents, it’s as simple as that.

“Car parks are a great asset to us that can generate income year after year to support activities such as maintaining the roads.

“With millions of visitors coming to Blackpool every year it is not surprising that we have more car parks, being used more often than anywhere else in Lancashire.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “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 21.4 million cars on Britain’s roads, today there are 30.7 million.

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

“The good news is that 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.”