More than £3.3million income for district council from car parking charges

The Ham car park in Sidmouth. Ref shs 5321-30-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

The Ham car park in Sidmouth. Ref shs 5321-30-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

The figures, which shows each year for the last five years car parks have raised more than £3million for East Devon District Council, were obtained using a Freedom of Information request.

East Devon District Council earned more than £3.3million from car parks last year.

The figures, which show a Sidmouth car park to be one of the three most profitable, were obtained via a Freedom of Information request to the council.

In the financial year 2017 to 2018 EDDC earned £3,364,461 from the car parks it maintains, the highest amount in the last five years.

The figures, which exclude VAT, show car parks have earned EDDC more than £3.1million each year for the last five years.

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Ham West car park in Sidmouth was last year’s top earner with Exmouth’s Imperial Road and London Hotel car parks close behind.

The Journal contacted EDDC to find out how the money raised by car parking is used, a council spokeswoman said: “It’s important to point out that the figures quoted here are income and not profit. Once all expenses are paid for the maintenance, management, staffing costs and other overheads for our car parks, business rates alone cost almost £500,000, the figure reduces to around £2million annually.

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“The balance contributes to the council’s general revenue fund which pays for a range of public services for East Devon residents including waste and recycling, grounds maintenance, public toilets, environmental health services and planning.

“We see no evidence that fair and proportionate car parking charges adversely affect local businesses.”

According to the council if parking was free in East Devon council tax for an average band D property in the area would increase by ‘more than 40%’.

A spokesman for Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce said: “The biggest problem we find is the classic mistaken presumption that raising charges will increase revenue – it often doesn’t.

“On several occasions, EDDC has increased prices only to find that income has fallen: drivers have found other places to park or simply stopped coming to our town.

“The evidence of this has been overwhelming in recent years, and we think the penny is beginning to drop.

“We think EDDC has finally learned this lesson, and appreciates that any increase in charges may well not produce extra revenue, and could simply damage local businesses.

“This is increasingly understood around the country as authorities understand that excessive parking charges are hitting town centres hard.

“One initiative would be to make the first half hour free in every EDDC car park. On the face of it, revenue would seem certain to fall, but we’re not so sure.

“Many shoppers would stay longer because of the free period, and town centres would become livelier and more vibrant.

“This would attract others to visit. Shops would undoubtedly benefit. It is something, perhaps, to try in the winter months first. At the end of the day, we all want to see our town centres thriving and successful.”

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