Council loses £500k on car parking measures

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East Dunbartonshire Council made a loss of £500,000 on car parking last year, a new report has revealed.

Across Scotland as a whole, £40m in profits was raked in, but half of the 32 local authorities saw levels fall, or made a loss, according to analysis by the RAC Foundation.

East Dunbartonshire lost the most during 2015-2016, and up on its £330,000 loss during 2014-2015.

The figures, for parking revenue and penalty notices minus spending, were taken from the council’s annual returns to the Scottish Government.

EDC took on responsibility for enforcing parking restrictions from Police Scotland in April 2014.

One of the conditions laid down by the government was that the Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) scheme be self-financing.

In response to this year’s half a million pound loss, council boss Thomas Glen said on Monday the DPE scheme “was not introduced as an income generating scheme.”

Mr Glen, who is Depute Chief Executive, Place, Neighbourhood & Corporate Assets, added: “East Dunbartonshire Council introduced Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) following withdrawal by Police Scotland to ensure road safety, encourage turnover in town centres and improve parking behaviour.

“It was not introduced as an income generating scheme. However, the mix of on and off-street parking seeks to cover the costs of the scheme with any additional income reinvested in roads and parking measures.”

When the DPE scheme was introduced in April 2014, the council’s Community Wardens became responsible for issuing Penalty Charge Notices for violation of parking restrictions.

Then, the council said the DPE scheme was 
essential to help sustain town centres, improve safety and traffic flow.

At the time, a council spokesman said: “Traffic wardens were withdrawn by the police in 2011 and have been missed in our town centres.

“Police officers have done their best to address parking issues in the meantime, but it is simply unsustainable to allow the situation to continue.

“The Council will be taking on the enforcement of existing parking controls, previously enforced by traffic wardens.

“The Council was required to show the Scottish Government the scheme would 
become self-financing”.

As part of the DPE scheme,, the council introduced charges for motorists at a number of East Dunbartonshire 
town centre car parks in 
the summer of 2016. It was originally planned these charges would come into force in April 2015.

At the time, protestors raised concerns that Kirkintilloch would turn into a ghost town if the charges came into force, with many saying 
people would simply head to Bishopbriggs, Parkhead Forge and Cumbernauld.

The latest RAC report 
covers the period from April 2015-2016.

In response to the motoring group’s findings, the IAM RoadSmart motoring group said some councils were profiting from what most drivers saw as a basic service.

Scotland-based policy and research director Neil Greig said: “Until councils can demonstrate where the extra money is being spent, doubts will remain on fairness. “Variable annual amounts of surplus and penalty charge income simply cannot be the best way to plan for long-term improvements in roads.

“With high streets struggling financially, a return to providing car parking as an attraction for visitors rather than an opportunity to profit from them is long overdue.”

Scotland’s three largest city councils made a combined profit of £37 million from parking last year, the report revealed.

Edinburgh accounted for nearly half of the total, with its surplus rising by 12 per cent to £19.4 million in 2015-16. Glasgow generated £12.6m – up 11 per cent – while Aberdeen recorded an 8 per cent increase to £4.9m.

Dundee saw one of the biggest rises, with a 34 per cent hike in profits to £1.6m.