Norfolk and Waveney councils receive �11m in parking charges
Councils in Norfolk and Waveney received more than �11m in car parking fees and fines last year.
The most lucrative car parks have been revealed under new figures obtained by the EDP under a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.
Council-run pay and display sites brought in �11.7m revenue, while �1.2m was spent on car park maintenance and improvements. The figures for the 2010/11 financial year are down on the previous year when motorists paid out more than �12m on parking charges and fines.
But council leaders said that while parking revenue provided valuable income to retain services and keep council tax bills down, they did not wish to overcharge lcoals and visitors.
The figures from the FoI request shows that Norwich City Council received almost �4.5m from its car parks last year and spent just over �300,000 on maintenance and improvements. The coastal districts of West Norfolk, Waveney, and Great Yarmouth turned over �3.9m, �1.8m, and �1.2m respectively in parking charges and fees in 2010/11.
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The most profitable off-street car parks were:
• St Andrew's car park in Norwich, �2,047,567
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• Old Cattle Market in King's Lynn, �662,339
• Clapham Road in Lowestoft, �334,678
• Howard Street in Great Yarmouth, �194,932
• Weavers Court, Diss, �30,031
Charles Reynolds, chairman of Great Yarmouth Borough Council's car parking strategy steering group, said the authority reviewed parking charges every year and fees had not changed this year.
'Parking charges are a very big issue and we have to find a fine balance between the income that is needed to support local services and local people, but must not be too high to put people off from coming into the area to spend their hard-earned money.'
'Our policy in Yarmouth is that we are car friendly. We do everything we can to make sure charges are as low as they can be. No one can deny that it is a significant income, but it keeps council tax down and provides the money needed for services,' he said.
Bert Bremner, cabinet member for planning and transportation at Norwich City Council, said any profits from parking were used for the benefit of the city.
'We have 17pc of the off-street car parks in the city and we have to be very careful about pricing. We do not want to put people off from coming into the city by over pricing the workers, shoppers and tourists and we are very conscious that there is a delicate balance,' he said.
Brian Long, deputy leader of the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk, said there were also staffing costs and repayments on long-term investments like the St James multi-storey car park that needed to be covered by parking fees.
'There are lots of services we provide in theatres, pools and sports facilities which are heavily subsidised by the council and parking revenue helps with that. In the last two years we have held the same fees and we are mindful of helping local traders by introducing three hours for the price of two to encourage shoppers into town,' he said.
South Norfolk Council made �236,734 in pay and display charges last year and spent �46,311 on maintenance.
Leader John Fuller said charges had not changed since a new charging system was introduced in 2009.
'When we came into power there was a �2m maintenance backlog. This was addressed. We now have lower maintenance costs but the surplus helps payback the upgrade costs. There is no profiteering. The maintenance plus staffing and repayments are covered by the charges. It's break-even really.'
Breckland Council and Broadland District Council do not charge for off-street parking. The parking figures for North Norfolk District Council figures were unavailable at the time of writing.