MORE than £1.2m in parking revenue was raised by just one of Blackpool’s central car parks, it has been revealed.
New figures show the car park on Central Drive, which has spaces for 696 cars, made £1,273,718 for the council, making it one of the top 10 biggest earners for the year in a list which includes cities such as Birmingham and Southampton.
And separate figures show £78,670 was raised in parking fines handed out to drivers parking on Queen Street, which places it among the top 10 most expensive streets outside of London.
The car park raised more in fines than the leading facilities in Manchester, Sheffield and Bolton, the figures show.
Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for streets and transport, said the money the council received from either car parking or parking fines was re-invested in “essential services”.
He said: “The charges are necessary tools to manage our highways network and the surplus is re-invested to maintain our highways, essential services and infrastructure. It is important to recognise that, given the freeze on council tax increases and the cuts in our central Government funding allocation, if we did not have a surplus then larger cuts to essential services would be necessary.”
But Stay Blackpool president Claire Smith believes the council may have more work to do.
She said: “It’s a problem for the council as it has so many budget cuts. But it does seem disproportionate – that’s an awful lot of fines.
“The council has to balance good will and income against upset and outrage. It seems to me it’s not quite right.”
Mrs Smith, of Number One hotel, on Harrowside West, said she had heard from guests that parking in the town centre was reasonable compared to major cities like London and Manchester, but the town was faced with the competition of free parking offered by out of town shopping centres.
She added: “There is a real issue for councils in that when the Government is cutting back their allowance and budgets, money has to be found from somewhere, and as much as we would all love it, they are not going to suddenly make all car parking free.
“£1.2m is a lot of money to lose, and the car parks have to be maintained which the price of parking will be going towards.
“I just don’t think the council has the balance quite right.”