WORCESTER City Council raked in more than £3million in car parking charges in the last year, beating its own estimates by more than £400,000, the Observer can reveal.
Guildhall chiefs had only budgeted for £2.7million in income from residents and visitors parking in City Council-owned car parks
However, council leader Coun Marc Bayliss told the Observer the authority had smashed its target by £410,000, meaning £3.1million was recouped from car parking charges last year.
Car parking charges have been frozen for the past two years under the Conservative controlled council and again for 2016/17.
And Coun Bayliss believes this action led to the surprise boost to the council’s coffers.
“We’ve smashed our own car park income targets this year; it’s up against our target by £410,000.
“That’s by keeping fees down, that’s not by fleecing the customer and it’s by being sensible.
“We knew it was the right thing to do.
“We’re encouraging people not to park in side streets and we’re looking at how we can offer discounts to workers to get people to use the car parks.
“That is the right place to park your car and not outside someone’s front door.
“We’ve also helped keep shops open by keeping car parking charges down to attract visitors to the city,” he added.
However, despite the funding boost, Coun Bayliss admitted it was unclear what the council will use the extra money for.
“If there’s a way of using the money to do some good around the city then we will of course have to consider it within the round of spending overall,” he added.
In response, Labour group leader Coun Adrian Gregson claimed the only reason car parking income was up was because city’s park and ride service had been scrapped by Worcestershire County Council.
“That decision was a bad one in general for transportation and congestion and the effects on air pollution in the city,” he added.
“It makes it less attractive to visitors, shoppers and investors.
“I believe the money needs to be spent on transportation themes, in which case in terms of spending the money.
“One option would be to look at residential parking schemes since a real problem is that commuters clog up residential streets.
“It could also have an impact as a result in reducing those problems for residents,” he added.
* What do you think? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org