Argyll and Bute parking income soars

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Parking income in Argyll and Bute has increased by more than anywhere else in Scotland over the past four years while less money is being spent on the area’s roads, a new report has claimed.

According to figures released by a car insurance company, the council’s increase in parking income of 262.5 per cent since 2013-14 is the fifth highest in the UK.

Revenue taken from car parking increased from £69,000 in the 2013/14 financial year to £274,000 in 2017/18, the report stated.

But in common with most councils across the UK, the authority’s spend on roads has decreased, from £9.9m to £9.2m. This amounts to a decrease of more than 15 per cent when adjusted for inflation.

However, last month the council revealed it was one of the top five in Scotland in terms of improvement in road conditions.

An additional £16m investment in roads over the next two years was approved in February 2018 as part of the budget.

The figures, extracted from official accounts published by authorities, also show that spending on roads by Scottish councils dropped from a total of £365m to £333m, while parking income rose from £30m to £42m.

A spokesperson for the insurance company said: ‘While councils are justified in charging for parking and issuing fines for illegal parking, our research found many motorists are confused about why more isn’t done to improve roads, given the amount of money councils receive in fines.

‘Poor road conditions are a major concern for drivers, with roads riddled with potholes and unclear markings. It’s no wonder drivers want councils to be putting more into making these better.

‘Parking and other charges are a huge burden on motorists when the cost of driving is already very expensive.

‘Those who think they have been fined unfairly are within their rights to challenge it, and our guide offers advice on how to do this.’

The insurance company also stated that 54 per cent of people surveyed as part of its research think that parking fines should be spent on improving roads.

It also found that one in four UK drivers who were surveyed has suffered damage to their vehicle as a result of poor road conditions in the past two years.

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘We’d like to have maintained parking charges at their previous very low levels, but this unfortunately was not an option.

‘Year-on-year cuts to our funding mean that, like all councils, we must make changes to how we work, having previously kept charges to a minimum for as long as possible.

‘Money raised will go towards essential council services, including car park maintenance.’

Speaking in December, Councillor Roddy McCuish, the authority’s policy lead for roads and amenity services, said: ‘Calculations done for each local authority show that it will take investment of £10m each year to keep Argyll and Bute’s roads in their current condition.

‘To get them up to a fully maintained state, in one year, would cost £101m.

‘Year-on-year cuts to our funding mean that, like all councils, we must think carefully about how we provide the vital services you tell us you need.

‘There is still additional commitment for our roads for the next two years.’