Southend Council made £5million on parking fines last year

Southend Council made more than £5million profit on parking charges last year, a new report has revealed.

The borough ranked as 44 in the top 50 local authorities to generate a surplus from parking charges between the end of March 2018 and the beginning of April 2019.

The data has been revealed in a report from the RAC Foundation which shows that there has been a 48 per cent increase in income from the charges in the past five years.

A separate council report shows that in the same 12-month period, a total of 47,265 penalty charges were handed to motorists and nearly a quarter of those were handed to people parking on double yellow lines – a total of 24.7 per cent.

Motorists parking on shared bays without a permit made up 14 per cent of the total, while those parking without paying a charge make up another 13.9 per cent.

The figures include drivers caught parking on the streets, as well as those caught parking off-street in car parks. The figures show that the five most common places to be caught are all within less than a two-mile radius and located close to the seafront.

Councillor Ron Woodley, who oversees transport, said that the income received through the parking fines is invested into highways works and road resurfacing programmes.

He said: “We have spent around £630,000 more on filling potholes than what was in the budget because I do believe in making roads safer. We are looking after motorists and putting the money back into the town.

“This year, between 2019 and 2020, we are also expecting to undershoot our expected income from parking by £450,000, which shows people are parking more positively and carefully.”

The parking figures have been revealed as the council looks to make major changes to the way residents pay for parking in the borough, including the possible introduction of a scheme that will allow residents to pay around £7 a month to park for three hours anywhere in Southend.

Mr Woodley said he believes that at times people park illegally due to “frustration” and that can range from not having the correct change to being uncertain of how to use the Mobon app which allows people to pay for parking using their phones.

“If we can get the parking strategy right and make it easier for people to park we can reduce the number of fines. As an authority, any authority in the country, shouldn’t be reliant on fines as income it should be treated as extra that we then spend in addition to what we have budgeted.”

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter