1 August 2013

RAC report on excessive council parking surpluses

Barnet Council - figures from SPA reports

The RAC Foundation have produced a great report on council parking income, here.

They have used the figures found in official returns of income and expenditure but Mr Mustard thinks they show a misleading picture (don't blame the RAC) and so he has done a comparison to the figures shown in the SPA, the Special Parking Account, which he thinks shows a clearer, more accurate picture. The SPA excludes income from off-street car parks which for 12/13 was £444,000 & which was down on previous years, due in the opinion of Mr Mustard, to the removal of cash parking meters and the hiking of charges during the rein of Cllr Brian Coleman as the cabinet member with responsibility for parking (he would disagree of course! & the council committee report blames the recession).

Barnet Council parking surpluses

Year RAC £ SPA £
09/10 2,904,000 2,744,694
10/11 1,307,000 2.088.340
11/12 -156,000 5,708,039
12/13 unknown 7,193,142

What is clear from this table is that the way in which parking income and expenditure is reported leads to lower reported surpluses overall than are actually the case. The RAC say Barnet Council's costs doubled over 2 years which is not shown in the SPA figures, which apart from the year of getting ready to out-source, with attendant costs, shows costs are steadily reducing.

Year Costs £
09/10 6,751,712
10/11 6,271,885
11/12 6,567,971
12/13 4,661,253

One thing is clear; Barnet Council is making excessive surpluses from parking and the effects are visible in empty High Streets and this is a policy they have been following since 09/10 to steadily increase the surplus from parking which, in effect, subsidises council tax.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Footnote: Mr Mustard wonders if the reason for the loss in the RAC's figures in 11/12 is because c. 450 parking meters were thrown on the scrap heap and the depreciated capitalised cost remaining on the books had to be written off. If there were 450 meters at an average installation cost of say £5,000 were written off on a straight line basis over, say, 4 years then the Accounts would have taken a one-off hit of £1,125,000. Mr Mustard can't ask the council as they are refusing to ask his perfectly reasonable questions on parking. You can ask.

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