In the last five financial years Folkestone & Hythe District Council have only made two surpluses from their on street car parking. These were 2016/17 and 2017/18 where they made £38,000 and £14,000 respectively. As F&HDC’s income has increased so has it’s expenditure, so creating three out of five deficits as the chart below shows.
On Street Parking is the realm of the County, at least in Kent and as such lies with them as the competent authority. There is an agreement between KCC and Folkestone & Hythe District Council.
So how is it that F&HDC make so little money from On Street Parking?
There is an amount of money (which can change from time to time, so lets say £100K for simplicity, this can go up or down according to any number of mechanisms) that the local district authority are allowed to generate in surplus from revenues arising from On Street Parking (Off Street Parking lies with the district exclusively) above which the surplus and we believe all of it, not just the amount above must be paid back to the highway authority (KCC). As such local councils such as ours must ensure that the surplus falls below this amount or cough up all the proceeds to KCC.
In order to ensure the surplus falls below the threshold, Councils such as ours, creatively account for the costs of overseeing on-street parking. Some of this is perfectly legitimate but requires very close scrutiny, which typically KCC do not do, although one would expect them to scrutinise these costs very carefully under the current financial climate. Here is an example for 2016/17 when the Council made a surplus of £38,000.
As you can see our Council allocate costs of each department in the council contributing to the planning and management of the parking department and this can be “exaggerated” in order to “eat up” any possible surplus, at least to bring it under the threshold.
Any On street parking surpluses must by law be used for transport projects. Transport Projects are laid out in Section 55 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 ; which deal with financial provisions relating to income & expenditure of local authorities in connection with parking places. It sets out what Council can spend their car parking surplus on.
Invariably one can see a small percentage of the Chief Exec, a slightly larger percentage of the relevant director and then a contribution to other departmental costs where they have input (eg Grounds Maintenance as above) or contribute to the running of the on street-parking. So your civil enforcement officer (formerly known as a Traffic Warden) focuses on both on and off street parking. As such their costs are apportioned accordingly – typically 50% or thereabouts to each. However, this will of course vary according to the off street v on street-parking available within our glorious district.
As the chain of command goes up to the top management level, the percentage contribution diminishes as these people ordinarily wear many hats other than parking.
So there you have it a little bit of creative accountancy – legitimate in most cases – manages to reduce any surplus to a minimal amount or create a deficit.
As for those accountants, Ian Dury once said: There ain’t half been some clever b*st*rds.
The Shepwayvox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful