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Mendip makes million pound parking profit

MENDIP District Council has made a £1.2million profit from parking charges for the year 2011/12.

The figures have brought heavy criticism from local shop owners and traders who say high car parking charges are hitting trade by keeping shoppers out of town.

The figures show a £49,000 increase over last year and work out at over £3,000 for every day of the year.

Across the whole of Somerset, over £5.5million is made from car parking which is more than large city councils including Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol and Sheffield.

The figures have been released by the RAC Foundation and they show Mendip as the 123rd most profitable local authority from parking charges out of 359 in England.

The 359 councils across England had a total current account surplus of £565million from on and off-street parking. Eight of the biggest 10 surpluses came from London councils with Westminster leading the way with a £41.6million profit.

The total profit represented a £54million increase on the surplus from the previous year and only 52 of the councils reported a deficit.

The RAC Foundation figures, produced for them by transport consultant David Leibling, are from the annual returns councils are required to provide to the Department for Communities and Local Government. They are based on three factors – on-street parking charges, off-street parking charges and parking penalties.

Running costs of parking operations are deducted from this total to produce the surplus or deficit figure.

The £1.2million profit places Mendip as the second highest profitable council in Somerset, with Taunton and Deane making the most, having announced profits of £2.3million. The remaining three councils in Somerset also made money with South Somerset making £1.13million, Sedgemoor £624,000 and West Somerset £334,000.

All money made is expected to be retuned into local transport plans. This was echoed by Transport Minister Norman Baker, who said, “The law is quite clear. Councils should not be pricing their parking in order to make a profit.

“Any monies raised from parking in excess of the cost of administration has to go back to transport purposes which can be dealing with potholes, improved road management or can be investing in public transport to encourage people to free up the roads.”