£1.1m parking fines doesn’t stop service making loss

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Parking wardens handed out more than £1.1m in parking fines last year across Northamptonshire, but the overall service still made a loss, new figures revealed.

A report still to be published by Northamptonshire County Council will show that in the financial year to last April, a total of £1,146,495 was successfully collected in parking fines with a further £503,691 recouped from pay and display parking machines in Northampton, the only district in the county to operate them.

However, the service is still set to make an overall loss to the taxpayer of almost £18,000.

News of the deficit came as Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, said the Government would be making it a legal requirement for councils to reveal the number of on and off-street parking places and the revenue raised from them as well as the cash raised from parking fines, in line with recommendations made in the Portas Review of the High Street.

As part of the announcement, Mr Pickles said: “We will expose a great council cash cow cover-up unmasking punitive parking practices that hit residents in the pocket. We’re calling time on local war against motorists. Now, more than ever, we need to see the back of this shopping tax and encourage more people onto the high street.”

A county council spokesman said: “The on-street parking scheme aims to be cost-neutral. Income from pay and display on-street facilities during 2011-12 was £503,691 which contributed to management, maintenance, cash collection and enforcement of the designated bays and contributes to balance the overall parking account. The outturn position on the account was £17,991 in deficit for the financial year in question. Under the Traffic Management Act, each year the authority is obliged to publicise figures for parking fines issued and income from fines.”

Northamptonshire County Council has outsourced parking enforcement in all the districts bar Kettering and Daventry to NSL Services Group since 2007.

The annual report for 2011-12 has still to be published, but the 2010-11 report revealed 39,305 fines were handed out, of which 4,266 were cancelled on appeal. Almost 11,000 were caught parking in a restricted area and 3,000 had car parking tickets which had expired. The NSL contract cost £1.455million in 2010-11.