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Day: June 27, 2011

Southend Council Car Parking profits soar majestically as the motorist gets screwed over yet again.

We have all had a moan about how much car parking costs these days. When a friend and I pop into town for all you can eat Chinese as we do for lunch every so often we park in a residential area because it’s free and walk ten minutes into town. The cost of parking your car even for a few minutes is obscene and people wonder why folks are being driven to out of town shopping centres where parking in generally free and why in town shops have been suffering all over the country for a fair while now.

Well a The Rambles of Neil Monnery investigation has resulted in the aforementioned website gaining a copy of the accounts for car parking costs/profits in the town. You can download the Excel file here to have a look in greater detail yourself.

As you can see from the spreadsheet should you have downloaded it the income raised through car parking charges has from from £1.317million in 2000 to £3.194million in 2009. This growth has been nearly fully subsidised by a rise in car parking income and not by a reduction in costs. Whilst 2009 was the lowest in terms of costs it was only £313,000 cheaper than in 2000. The huge fall in outlay in costs can be seen between 2008 and 2009 where clearly there was a conscious effort to reduce outlay with over £500,000 saved on this front.

Another clear revenue stream has been the increase of on street car parking charges. From 2000-2007 there was a small increase year on year in the income generated from these charges but in 2008 it rose by just under £200,000 and then in 2009 it more than doubled to a gross income of £1.334million. The costs too have increase mainly to add all the new areas that have to be patrolled for those who aren’t paying car parking charges and of course there is a cost to create these new car parking areas as well. The profits in on street car parking for Southend Council rose from £207,000 to £635,000 from 2000 through to 2009. It will be interesting to see how the accounts stack up over the next couple of years now that the expansion of pay and display has reached near saturation point.

It is the on street boom in car parking charges that has led to the rise in profits generated for the Council. The off-street profits have been relatively stable although the Council saw a significant dip in 2009 from £4.5million in 2008 to £3.8million in 2009. This is either because of the rise in off street parking or the fact that less people are now driving their cars into the town centre or other car parks where you have to pay and display. The reasons the profits soared still on the off street part of the business is the dramatic slashing of costs – from a decade high number of £2.25million in 2002 through to 2008 where there was a cost of £1.990m to the Council only to see that cost get reduced by over a million in 2009 where the costs for off street car park management was a paltry £981k.

This shows that the whole department has been heavily bloated for some time that you can reduce your costs by over a half and still increase your profits if not your turn over. One thing is pretty clear from these accounts is that Southend Council (I suspect like most other Council’s) see the motorist as an easy target to engineer profits. To make over three million a year just through car parking shows that the days when you could park for free anywhere or even a nominal amount have long gone. The motorists are taxed heavily on fuel, they have to get taxed on just having a car and now they are getting screwed over heavily if they want to actually go anywhere and park their car. It makes me glad that I don’t drive…

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