Bassetlaw District Council earned more than £1 million in parking charges last year

Bassetlaw District Council has earned more than £1 million over the past year in “stealth” parking charges, government figures suggest.

Council-run car parks across the district brought in £1.1 million in 2017-18 according to data produced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Overall, the figures would suggest that drivers in Bassetlaw paid an average of £6 per year in parking charges.

The council has praised the income it takes in parking charges and says all money is invested “straight back into the economy”.

Councillor June Evans, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Compared to neighbouring authorities in Nottinghamshire we believe we offer good value for money and are one of the lowest charging authorities for parking in the County.

“We do not expect to increase our charges for 2019/20.

“Any surplus created by car parking charges is reinvested back into the service for future years and has this year helped to create additional free residents’ car parking in our district.

“All of the council’s car parks have achieved the national ‘Park Mark’ standard, meaning that motorists can be confident in the safety standards of our car parks.

“We have a number of initiatives to support our high-streets all-year-round and offer two hours free parking in our ‘Shopper’ car parks each day, as well as offering free parking on Sundays.

“We are also about to launch our traditional free parking over the Christmas Period in all council owned car parks after 2pm, Monday to Saturday, from Monday, December 3.

“We hope this will encourage more residents to visit our high streets and support local retailers.

“In addition, we have commissioned an independent review into our car parks and pricing structure and will be sharing the results of this once is it complete.”

However, the AA says that parking charges are a “cash cow” for local authorities, and a “stealth tax” paid by drivers.

Jack Cousens, AA head of roads policy, said: “At a time of squeezed local authority budgets, drivers are not surprised to see that they are the cash cow council bosses turn to.

“Some councils receive millions of pounds worth of parking charges every year and still continue to increase their prices.

“With the continued rise of online shopping, there may come a point where drivers decide to forgo the high street entirely.

“The cost of parking should cover the cost of providing the service, not become a stealth tax paid by a few thousand who regularly visit the town.”

Over the year the council spent £675,000 on running, policing and maintaining parking services, meaning that they made a profit of £375,000 in 2017-18.

The council’s total income from parking charges has remained broadly level since 2016-17.