Sunderland parking system on the right road for a profit

Sunderland is set to make a profit from its parking operation for the first time in years, says the man in charge.

Friday, 9th December 2016, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 12:48 pm
Councillor Michael Mordey says people who park legally have nothing to fear as Sunderland City Council extends its enforcement efforts.

New figures from the RAC Foundation show the city council has slashed the loss made by its parking services in the last year.

The council lost more than £300,000 a year on parking since 2011 and 2014-15 saw the deficit hit £469,000.

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But the latest figures for the financial year 2015-16 show the loss slashed to just £78,000 - and Coun Michael Mordey, the council’s Portfolio Holder for City Services, is predicting the next report will show the service is in the black.

“As I said at a budget meeting earlier this year, the council’s deficit on parking would fall and this is what has happened,” he said.

“The RAC figures are a year out of date and I am confident the next set of figures, for the current financial year (2016/17), are going to show an overall surplus.

“The council has been refreshing and updating its parking services for several years now and this has included more parking bays, more spaces in and around the city centre and this has offered more choice and flexibility.

“Offering more choice has helped reduce the deficit and means the council can invest more in our city’s parking network and its facilities.”

The RAC Foundation report shows the surplus produced from council parking operations in England has reached a record high of just over three quarters of a billion pounds.

In the 2015-16 financial year the 353 local authorities in England generated a combined ‘profit’ of £756 million from their on- and off-street parking activities - a nine per cent leap on the 2014-15 figure of £693million, and 34% higher than in 2011-12.

Although not all individual councils made a large surplus on their parking activities, Sunder;amnd was one of just 49 (14%) which reported negative numbers.

Foundation director Steve Gooding said the price of parking was a compromise between the drive to attract peoplle into towns and cities and the need to keep the roads reasonably clear: “These numbers might seem eye-wateringly large, but in part they reflect the growing competition for space in many of our towns and cities.

“In 1995 there were only 21.4 million cars on Britain’s roads, today there are 30.7 million.

“Parking charges are one of the tools councils use to keep traffic moving while also allowing people reasonable and affordable access to high street shops and other facilities.

“The good news is that any profit generated by councils from on-street parking must, by law, be spent on transport-related activities and, as every motorist knows, there’s no shortage of work that needs doing.”

The RAC figures are calculated by taking income from parking charges and penalty notices into account and then deducting the costs of running car parks and parking enforcement.