Council make £3m on district car park profits

ALMOST £3m was made from car parks in the Chichester district last year, the Observer can reveal.

With more than 4,000 car parking spaces in car parks in the city and 1,500 spaces in rural car parks across the district, Chichester District Council makes an average of £500 profit per space – a figure declared ‘insane’ by Chichester resident James Wright.

However, the council said car park revenue helped to protect other services and keep council tax down.

A hike in car parking charges in spring this year prompted the Observer to make a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request to the council, to get a break down of income and expenditure.

Between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, the total income was just over £4.5m, with the expenses racking up to just over £1.7m – leaving a profit of £2.8m, or 62 per cent.

“After expenditure, we can spend the profit from the car parks on whatever we want,” said Kenrick Garroway, assistant director for the economy.

“One of the first things we do is make sure we cover the costs of the car parking. We deal with that first of all.

“We can spend the profit we make on other areas, such as reducing tax.

“Our expenditure is spent on employees’ salaries, repairs, maintenance and transport.”

But the figures have been met with amazement from some of the area’s visitors and residents.

“How about dropping the price to encourage folk back into town?” said Jo Simpson, from Chichester.

Kevin Farrell, another Chichester resident, questioned whether free parking would encourage more visitors to the city.

However, Bert Swattermain said: “The cost of car parking in Chichester is reasonable and it is a good place to shop.

“The cost of parking in Worthing is extortionate.”

In the FOI response, the council lists seven areas of parking expenditure totalling £1,737,250. The biggest – 38 per cent of all costs at £654,343 – was premises’ spending, including repairs and maintenance, building works and rates. The council also spends £367,000 on supplies and services, including uniform, stationery, advertising, computing and consultancy and court costs, plus a further £360,727 on employee costs.

Other expenditure included transport, capital charges and contract services – adding up to £158,912.