Council loses £1.3m on parking

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WIGAN Council has made a loss of more than £1.3m on parking in the past five years, latest shock figures reveal.

The statistics explode the myth that parking charges and fines are a handy cash cow for a local authority. The Freedom of Information request revealed that while Wigan town hall brought in more than £2.6m from parking charge notices between the financial years 2010-11 and 2014-15, it cost a further £1.3m than that to enforce.

Any money that is made from parking fines is used by Wigan Council to improve off-street parking, transport-related projects and environmental schemes

Emma Barton - assistant director of economic development

Under new government law, this figure could look set to drop even further following announcements that drivers will be given a 10-minute leeway period before receiving a ticket.

However, belt-tightening in the last five years has seen the gap narrow from about £300,000 a year to nearer half that.

Emma Barton, assistant director of economic development at Wigan Council, said: “As part of our parking enforcement role we provide fair and robust enforcement to town centre areas to encourage a turnover of visitors, boost the town’s economy and ensure that delivery routes to businesses are clear.

“Permit schemes in residential areas have been introduced to prevent visitors and workers parking in residential streets and causing an inconvenience and congestion issues to the local residents of the area.

“Where a council makes a surplus on its on-street parking charges and on-street and off-street enforcement activities, it must use the surplus in accordance with legislation.

“Any money that is made from parking fines is therefore used by Wigan Council to improve off-street parking, transport-related projects and environmental schemes.

“We note the government guidance on the 10-minutes’ grace and will be reviewing our policies to reflect this announcement.”

The council said it would be too soon to speculate about what impact any of the new changes will have on their revenue.

Some of the changes, which are expected to take effect by the end of this month, include reminders for councils not to use parking to generate profit, reviews for resident parking on receipt of a petition and a ban on secret CCTV cars in certain areas.

There are currently more than 100 parking zones controlled by the council across Wigan and Leigh, with many around the fringes of Wigan town centre.

Current penalty charges issued across the borough vary between a fixed penalty of £50 or £70, according to the offence.

The charges can be only be reduced by 50 per cent if the payment is made within 14 days of receiving the notice.