Parking costs in North Devon and Torridge defended by councils
North Devon Council and Torridge District Council have defended the fact that they receive on average £3 million a year from car parking fees across Northern Devon.
Local councils' earnings from parking fees were brought into the limelight last week when a report by the RAC Foundation revealed during 2011/12 the combined amount of cash left over nationally after money was spent on parking services, filling potholes, funding park and ride schemes, street lights and road improvements was £412m.
The foundation found that this was a £54m increase in the surplus left over in 2010/11.
In Northern Devon North Devon Council has raked in on average over £2 million a year from their 36 car parks while Torridge District Council rakes in an average £800,000 from their 22 car parks.
These figures are before the councils have paid for maintenance and staff.
But the leader of Torridge District Council Councillor Philip Collins has defended the amount made in Torridge.
He said: "I believe car park charges in Torridge have been, and remain, below or on a par with most other local authorities.
"When I became a councillor ten years ago, car parking was one area where annual increases were considered to support the budget - that was also the thinking nationally I believe. "The budget at Torridge does need to be seen in the round, and the cost of maintaining our car parks is considerable.
"We are reviewing a range of modern methods of controlling our car parks, including barrier systems and Number Plate Recognition, but each of these would involve considerable investment. "I doubt if our charges are excessive when looked at over the years and when compared with other local authorities.
"It certainly would be a pleasure to go back to free car parking throughout Torridge – but I doubt if that will be in the foreseeable future. Perhaps one day if Eric Pickles thinks it is a good idea."
The joint head of financial services at North Devon Council, Steve Hearse, said: "A proportion of the pay and display income received, along with other car park income, contributes towards the running of the car parks service.
"The excess of income over expenditure of around £1.250m feeds into the council's general budget for all the services we provide."
The car park in North Devon which makes the most money is the Cattle Market Car Park in Barnstaple. In 2012/13 a total of £603, 727 was taken at the car park.
In Torridge the car park earning the most during 2011/12 was the main Westward Ho! Car Park which took £84, 079.49.
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