Local MP Slams Hounslow Council Parking Profits
The surplus puts it in the top ten UK councils to profit from parking charges
Local MP Mary Macleod has slammed Hounslow Council's huge £7 million surplus from parking charges, an increase of 43% in the past four years. The MP has demanded to know how the Council intends to use the money.
A report from the RAC Foundation last week shows that Hounslow is in the top ten of over 300 English councils when it comes to making a profit from parking charges. Its surplus of £7.3 million has increased by 43% since 2009.
A council spokesman said: “Councils have to subsidise parking services as the cost is not covered by parking fines. Any surplus income from parking fines is ploughed into concessionary travel, road safety schemes and more parking spaces, which is good for motorists, pedestrians and older and disabled people.
“This council investment includes several stop and shop schemes across the borough offering motorists 30 minutes free parking.”
The Conservative grouping on the Council said they were "shocked, dismayed and incredulous" at the news and said the council was treating motorists as "milch cows".
The MP for Brentford and Isleworth said that she receives complaints almost every week from residents about unclear parking rules and fines, particularly in the Chiswick area, and is keen to find out what exactly the London Borough of Hounslow are doing with this huge profit.
A recent report found that Hounslow Council made £634,704 from 13,132 tickets issued on Chiswick High Road in 2012-2013, making the street the top UK location for parking fines. Hounslow Council blamed this on the new parking regulations during the Hammersmith flyover closure, and the change in traffic rerouting during the Olympic Games.
Mary said that parking charges and fines were there to help councils keep traffic flowing and to keep pedestrians and motorists safe.
Local Government Secretary Rt Hon. Eric Pickles MP has made it clear that parking is not a tax or cash cow for town hall officers, she said.
"Any profits made from parking must be spent on transport purposes such as dealing with pot holes, improved road management or in improving local public transport to free up the roads.
Mary said : “Shortly after taking office, the Government awarded Hounslow a grant worth around £350m over 25 years as part of an overall £800m Hounslow Highways Private Finance Investment of £800m to upgrade the roads and pavements. It also received money from the Government Emergency Pothole Repair Grant in 2011/12. So why do they need to make such a profit from parking charges and fines?
“I urge the Council to immediately address this and tell local residents why it has been necessary to increase parking charges by 43% since 2009/10.”
The MP has started a campaign to persuade Hounslow to introduce a ‘HounslowCard’, which would allow local people 30 minutes of free parking anywhere in the Borough to encourage people to use local shops and businesses.
Mary added:“I would like to see the Council bring in a “HounslowCard”, similar to the RichmondCard in the neighbouring Borough. We should be using money from parking to support our small businesses and make it easier for local residents to shop locally.”
A Hounslow Council spokesman said; “This council investment includes several stop and shop schemes across the borough offering motorists 30 minutes free parking.”
“Shocked, dismayed and incredulous" was the reaction of the Conservatives on learning that Labour-run Hounslow ranked as the Council with the 10th highest parking surplus (out of 359), an increase of 43% since 2009-2010 when the Borough was run by the Conservative-led coalition,” said Councillor Liz Mammatt, Conservative Deputy Group Leader.
"Cabinet papers of 30/7/2013 (page 250) reveal concern that there may be a shortfall in the budgeted parking “ income” for 2013-2014. The principal concern is invariably about “ income” (Cabinet papers of 6/11/2012 – pages 191and 208), not easing congestion, parking charges’ original raison d’être. This shows that revenue-generation is Labour’s prime motivation. As a group, the Conservatives are currently reviewing parking policy and we are hoping to announce a fairer outcome for motorists in the autumn.
Labour must help all our residents, visitors and businesses, including retailers, not treat them as milch cows,” declared Liz.
August 2, 2013