Parking turns a handy profit for Southend Council

Southend Council made £9.4 million in parking charges and fines in the last year – but almost half of the people who challenged tickets were successful, a report has revealed.

The report on the city’s parking shows 59,690 parking fines were issued in 2021/22, up from 37,196 in 2021/22 during the height of lockdown and 53,175 in 2019/20.

The cost of running the service was £3,656,000, leaving the council with a £5.4 million surplus to invest in Southend’s highways

Almost 35,000 motorists paid up within 14 days of getting a ticket, earning a 50 per cent discount on the fine. But more than 4,000 left it too late and had to pay in full.

A total of 12,672 fines were challenged and of these 6,290 were cancelled. Just 62 people appealed to an adjudicator and only 13 of these were successful.

Steven Wakefield, councillor responsible for parking, said: “Generally the money that comes in goes back into the service. You would probably have some money from parking that might be able to be diverted but generally we spend the money back on the service. Some of the revenue from the parking charges might get to somewhere else but 90 per cent of the money should go back on things like resurfacing and repairs for roads.

“We don’t get much money from the Government. We do get some grants but not for it all and resurfacing does a hell of a lot of money.”

Paul Thompson, a member of Southend Seafront Traders’ Association, called for the council to reduce parking fees to encourage more visitors.

He said: “Because you reduce the charges doesn’t mean you reduce the revenue. If you reduce the price a bit then more people will come and the council would be better off. If you charged £50 a day nobody would come but if you charged £10 a day loads of people would come. It’s working out what’s the best formula.

“It’s a hell of a lot of revenue and shows how important car parking is to the council. It’s the only thing they do where they actually make a profit.”

The annual parking and enforcement report will be debated at the traffic regulations working party on Monday.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter