A councillor says “action must be taken” after it was revealed that Sunderland’s parking operation suffered a loss of close to half-a-million pounds.
Research from the RAC Foundation has found that the city’s council’s parking operation is now running at a £469,000 loss, putting it 349th out of 353 local authorities.
The authority lost £383,000 in 2013/14, £306,000 the year before, £362,000 in 2011/12 and £394,000 in 2010/11.
The figures are calculated by taking income from parking charges and penalty notices, then deducting running costs.
In stark contrast to Sunderland’s figures, Newcastle City Council made more than £6.6million, North Tyneside Council made £1.3million and Hartlepool made £476,000 in the past year.
Conservative deputy leader on Sunderland City Council, Peter Wood, says action needs to be taken to change the situation.
“This remains a very serious situation and with seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel,” said Coun Wood.
“What is the council actually doing to overcome these very substantial losses which it is making on parking?
“It’s certainly a large drag on council tax in the city and we have half a million pounds less to spend on other services.
“It’s something I’d like to speak to the leader about because this is not just a blip.
“This is a persistent problem and action is needed on the council’s part to put things right.”
Despite the bleak situation on Wearside, the picture nationally is very different, with profits generated by all authorities reaching £693million from day-to-day, on and off-street parking.
This is a 4% increase on the 2013/14 amount of £667million.
A total of £308million (44%) of the overall surplus total was generated by councils in London.
Although not all councils made a large surplus, few lost money on their parking activities.
Just 57 (16%) of the 353 local authorities in England, such as Sunderland, reported negative numbers.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The financial sums involved in local authority parking are huge and the overall profits eye-watering.
“And once again the year-on-year direction of travel is upwards.
“It is unsurprising that London leads the way in making money. Its roads are most congested and the pressure on road space immense.
“The legal position is that parking charges are to be used as a tool for managing traffic.
“But with local government budgets under ever-greater pressure, the temptation to see them as a fundraiser must be intense.
“The precarious financial state of many councils is a genuine concern, not least when it comes to the risk of a cut in road-maintenance spending, which will hit every one of us.
“A funding solution requires national and local government to look beyond the High Street parking meter.”
Sunderland City Council were unable to comment on the story.