Council denies it is making money out of residents' parking zones, as councillor claims the system may be illegal (From The Northern Echo)
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Council denies it is making money out of residents' parking zones, as councillor claims the system may be illegal
A COUNCIL has denied claims that it is acting outside of the law in the amount it charges for residents’ parking permits, after a councillor asked for proof that the money was not being used for other projects.
Councillor Ian Galletley asked Darlington Borough Council to provide figures on its residents parking zones (RPZ) system following a High Court ruling that councils cannot use RPZs to increase revenue.
The cost of a renewing an RPZ permit in Darlington will increase from £25 a year to £50 a year in April, leading some residents to question where the money is going.
Darlington Borough Council has denied that it uses RPZs as a ‘cash cow’ to fund general highways schemes and said its figures show that the system is currently running at a deficit, leading to the increase in the cost of an annual permit.
Coun Galletley claimed the figures provided by the council are ‘disconcertingly vague’ and do not properly break down the cost of operating the system as a proportion of the wider civil parking enforcement (CPE), including car parks and on-street parking, which uses the same staff and equipment.
The concerns come days after a group of MPs called on local authorities to open up their books to prove where the money generated by parking schemes is being used, amid fears that motorists are being used to generate income for cash-strapped councils.
Darlington Borough Council has previously said it expects its parking revenue surplus to fall in 2013-14, although it is still predicted to make£1.33m, after costs.
Figures provided to Coun Galletley, who represents the College ward in Darlington, by Darlington Borough Council show that the authority spends £572,630 a year on running RPZs, as a proportion of the wider CPE.
The council states that salaries for RPZ enforcement amount to £393,755 a year, while ICT and other equipment amounts to £32,213 a year.
RPZs generate income of £418,527 in penalty notice payments and £30,430 in resident permit payments – a deficit of £123,673.
No data for the costs of operating the entire CPE system was provided by the council, or how the proportion of the costs attributed to RPZs was worked out.
Coun Galletley said: “How did they arrive at the figures for running RPZs?
“They don’t explain how the salaries, for example, were worked out. Are they talking about parts of people, who work in RPZs part of the time? They can’t just pluck figures out of the air."
Gary Hinton, who lives in a street with an RPZ, said: "I’m not happy with the figures provided, they are totally vague.”
In response, a council spokeswoman said: “The income resulting from CPE and RPZs does not exceed expenditure. We are operating well within the legal requirements.”
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