Millions wiped from local authority budgets as parking is slashed – Nottinghamshire Live

Council budgets have been slashed by millions of pounds by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on parking revenue.

Government data reveals that local authorities in England had predicted to bank more than £885 million in parking fees and fines during the 2020/21 financial year.

But the AA said the coronavirus lockdown and the suspension of parking charges means councils are not receiving the income they expected when they drew up their budgets.

It claims authorities have been put in a “difficult position”, as they balance the need to reapply charges to pay for road improvements and pothole repairs, with the importance of helping high streets recover by keeping parking free.

Many councils across England lifted parking charges in March to support communities during the coronavirus outbreak.

AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens said: “If councils weren’t already under significant pressure, they’ll be bracing themselves even more as they see a huge chunk of their income for the year lost.

“For being so dependent on this income stream, councils are now stuck at a crossroad. Waive the fees entirely and absorb the financial hit, or reapply them and risk hurting, or worse losing, businesses that bring in business rates and jobs in their towns.

“This loss of revenue should also act as a wake-up call to towns and cities intent on banning drivers from their centres.

“If they ban cars completely, they need to be prepared to lose a huge chunk of a major income source.”

Local Government Association transport spokesman David Renard said: “Councils continue to work all day and night to support communities through the Covid-19 crisis but have faced extra cost pressures and significant income losses as a result, as this survey highlights.

Parking revenue has plummeted

“The Government’s commitment to fund a portion of councils’ lost income from fees and charges is a step in the right direction.

“We reiterate our call to the Government to meet all extra cost pressures and income losses from fees and charges and other sources, including commercial activity, if councils are to avoid having to make tough decisions on in-year cuts to services to meet their legal duty to set a balanced budget this year.

“With high streets and town centres reopening, demand for parking spaces will be returning back to normal levels in many places.
“As before the pandemic, councils will set charges to reflect local circumstances, including supporting high streets and town centre businesses.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government spokeswoman said: “The Government is introducing a co-payment scheme to cover irrecoverable sales, fees and charges income lost by councils during the pandemic, such a car parking fees.

“We’re also giving councils unprecedented support for the spending pressures they have told us they’re facing during the pandemic.

“The £4.3billion package, including £3.7bn of un-ringfenced grants and the £600 million infection control fund, demonstrates our commitment to making sure councils have the resources they need to continue to support their communities through this challenging time.”

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