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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Cumbria councils rake in more than £6.7m from parking charges

County council chiefs believe new parking charges could cut congestion in parts of Cumbria.

Figures released this week showed authorities in the county raked in more than £6.7m from parking charges last year.

And that total could rise further if Cumbria County Council imposes on-street parking charges as part of its budget for the next financial year – a move that could generate £700,000 over the next three years.

Introducing those fees is among a package of measures being consulted on as the authority looks make savings of 24.4m – an initial chunk out of £80m-worth of cuts it must make by 2017.

A council spokesman said: “Some areas suffer from traffic congestion and capacity issues with on-street parking availability. The council knows this through its own traffic monitoring information and from Cumbrian residents telling us they would like improved parking controls. Cumbria is in a small minority of local authorities which currently do not charge for on-street parking. Most introduced this long ago and its beneficial impact on traffic flow is proven.

“If this measure was adopted in Cumbria, the council would focus its use on high-street and retail areas in town centres where parking is known to be at a premium.”

The county council says on-street charges could be introduced in Carlisle, Penrith, Workington, Whitehaven, Maryport, Keswick, and Cockermouth. There are fears about what impact any fees could have on business.

The parking charges figure for Cumbria includes income from parking charges and penalty notices.

Allerdale Council raised nearly £1m from its parking activities between 2012/13, nearly £570,000 was generated in Carlisle, £226,000 in Copeland, and £151,000 in Eden.

The RAC Foundation, which compiled the statistics, has criticised the amount of money councils generate through the charges but local authorities have defended the amount they make from car parking.

Carlisle City Council says it has made a loss of £122,000 on the work it does for the county council on on-street parking, including penalty charge notice administration. The off-street profit of £689,000 includes income from ticket machine charges, a spokesman said.

Allerdale Council says revenue from its car parks is put back into the services it provides, while it does not generate any income from on-street parking other than to cover running costs.

Copeland Council says the figures released by the RAC Foundation only refer to income.

When operating costs are taken away the authority made a net loss of nearly £14,500, a spokeswoman said.

Eden Council says it has been supporting the economy by offering free parking and is working on a new scheme with Penrith Business Improvement District next year for free parking in off-street car parks.

The council also says any surplus it makes from off-street parking is invested back in local services.

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