Parking rates earn borough council £550k

Dacorum Borough Council has defended its parking charges after a recent report said that the fees brought the authority a year’s profit of more than £550,000.

The authority says the fees have, in fact, been frozen since 2010 to encourage shoppers into the area and support businesses through the economic recession.

But a report will go before cabinet in October on whether this should continue into the 2014 to 2015 financial year.

Recently released figures from the RAC Foundation showed that Dacorum Borough Council netted a £558,000 surplus from car parking charges during the 2011 to 2012 financial year.

It collected £390,000 the year before that and £451,000 the year before that, the statistics show.

But the council says after its investment in car parks, the figure was £313,000 for 2011 to 2012, £158,000 for 2010 to 2011 and £129,000 for 2009 to 2010.

The number of parking fines issued by the council has fallen each year since 2005 – except for a one-off rise in the 2011 to 2012 financial year, the council says.

All money raised by the fines must be put back into the council’s on-street parking facilities, for which charges to the public have remained the same since 2003.

The council says it owns and operates 25 car parks, providing around 2,500 spaces – and more than half of them have won awards for safety and management.

The council’s car park income is put towards its overall services.

But cash from its on-street parking charges, which includes payment for permits and meters, must be put back into those ‘on-street’ services.

Its on-street parking fund made a £1,000 loss in 2009 to 2010 and a £108,000 loss in 2010 to 2011.

The council attributes the losses to the cost of relocating its parking centre to save longer-term costs.

The on-street parking budget collected a £150,000 surplus in 2011 to 2012.

The council’s plans to create 11 new parking spaces for people living in Ritcroft Close, Hemel Hempstead, were approved at a meeting of its development control committee on Thursday.

The installation is one of many that will go ahead as part of a £400,000 two-year verge-hardening project to end parking problems near to people’s homes.