Cornwall's £6.6m parking profit highest in SW
CORNWALL Council is expected to make a £6.6 million profit on parking charges and fines this financial year, according to government figures.
This would make Cornwall the biggest earner from motorists in 2013-14 in the South West, ahead of Exeter at £4.4 million and Torbay Council with £3.5 million.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles warned local authorities not to treat motorists as "cash cows" to plug holes in budgets.
But councils criticised his comments at a time when they are coping with significant budget cuts.
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Cornwall Council's projected profit is nearly £2.9 million less than in 2012-13.
The coalition said it scrapped rules that previously told councils to hike parking charges and ministers are considering what further steps can be taken to ensure parking policies and practices support local high streets.
As reported, Mr Pickles announced last month that he wants motorists to be allowed to park on double yellow lines for 15 minutes, amid concerns that rules are undermining high streets and shopping parades. Councils may increase the cost of hourly parking, introducing meters where parking was once free, or extending the time when charges are enforced.
Mr Pickles said: "The law is clear that parking is not a tax or cash cow for town hall officers. This (national) £635 million municipal parking profit shows why we need to review and rein in unfair town hall parking rules. Councils aren't listening, and local shops and hardworking families are suffering as a result."
Cornwall Council said income from car parks has dropped – by £2.9 million according to the government figures – and it is considering reducing the price of season tickets. But it added it has a large number of car parks that cost a lot to maintain because of scattered settlements and a holiday influx, as well as 6,000km of road to look after.
Independent councillor Bert Biscoe, portfolio holder for transport and waste, said: "Cornwall provides a service in terms of the quality of its roads – the positioning and pricing of its car parks contributes to the cost of this provision and helps to facilitate conditions which are good for trade."