Cornwall Council Top 10 in Parking

Next week the Parking Advisory Panel meets to discuss the proposed car parking charges for 2012-13. A lot of work has gone into these charges and I hope they meet with people’s approval. I am afraid you will have to wait for that blog!

It is no secret that I personally believe too much revenue is sought from car parking charges. I am not in the Cabinet, so I have no say on the amount that is raised. I have always thought car parking should be a service with a reasonable income. Revenue has to be raised because it pays for services you and I receive. It all comes down to how much

In my experience people often compare car parking charges in Cornwall with other areas and Local Authorities. Normally this is to make the point that parking is cheaper in others places. The question is how does Cornwall compare with other authorities?

In this months Parking News and (Yes, you can now stop laughing for me reading this) by the British Parking Association. There is an interesting article on Local Authority parking.  In the article by John Siraut he looks into how Local Authorities treat charging for car parking, those who are the most profitable and those who have seen a decrease in profits. It certainly makes for interesting reading, and there are one or two surprises in the article.

Two of his comments jump out for me, and I am in total agreement with them

“Pushing up parking charges is, in many ways, the lazy approach to raising revenue”

“Parking can be used to generate additional revenue if you are in the right location and have the right policies” 

In the article it lists many council who have lost revenue from on-street parking. The top 10 of largest reductions are in London who have between them seen a reduction of nearly £42m. However, 96 councils earned more than £1m (gross) from on-street parking. Cornwall is not included in this because the council does not charge for on-street parking.

English Councils made between them £489m out of parking in 2009/10. However, it is not all plain sailing because 60 council parking services lost around £14m between them. In London, the 10 most profitable councils raised £121m between them.

Local Authorities who saw the big increases in their profits between 2007/8 to 2009/10 include Plymouth who saw an increase of £2.6m. In comparison, Lambeth’s profit increases of £7.1m and Norfolk £1.3m. The 10 most profitable councils outside of London made £67m. Surprisingly, Cornwall is in the top 10.

The real surprise is in the top 10 most profitable councils outside of London. Brighton and Hove is top of the list with £11.7m and guess who is second? Yep, it is Cornwall Council coming in with £10.2m of profits. Cornwall’s parking is more profitable than Leeds, Birmingham, Bournemouth and York. Who would have thought Cornwall would be more profitable than Leeds and Birmingham! The full top 10 is:

  1. Brighton and Hove – £11.7m
  2. Cornwall – £10.2m
  3. Leeds – £6.9m
  4. Bath and North East Somerset – £6.32m
  5. Milton Keynes – £5.85m
  6. Birmingham – £5.75m
  7. Guildford – £5.59m
  8. Bournemouth – £5.2m
  9. Newcastle upon Tyne – £4.74m
  10. York – £4.64m
However, there may be a slight defence for Cornwall’s position; that is many of the other councils are not the monopoly supplier and have to set their prices according to be competitive. In Cornwall case, it is the majority supplier with only a handful of car parks in private hands or run by town and parish councils. 
Cornwall Council owns 226 car parks. Interestingly, 80% of revenue comes from 20% of car parks. 5 towns provide 60% of the income which include Truro, St Ives, Newquay, Penzance and Falmouth. If you add in St Austell, Fowey, Looe, Bude and Boscastle this raises to 76% of the income from these 10 towns.
With these figures you start to get the picture of why does Cornwall Council need to run and own the other car parks. In fact, 145 car parks are loss making/little profit. So why not hand them over, save money, but still keep the car parks that are profitable. Is this the real policy of Cornwall Council?
Much has been made of ‘Devolution’ but reading between the lines devolution is nothing more than a cost saving exercise, and have nothing to do with Localism.  Keep the assets that make you money, and off-load the rest seem more the order of the day.
Of course this could just be my suspicious mind.


  • Alex Folkes

    How do they figure £10.2m profit? We took around £12m of income last year but had expenditure of around £5m

  • Cllr Andrew Wallis

    Because it will include all the other income from the other parts of parking. Fines, rents etc. Coins in the machines are not the only income surrounding car parking.

    In layman's terms total income is £16m removed costs etc, and it leaves around £10m in profit.

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