Between them the 22 parking authorities in Wales made a surplus (‘profit’) of £8.7 million in 2012-13.
Cardiff had the biggest surplus at £2.6 million. This was followed by Swansea (£1.3 million) and Gwynedd (£800,000).
Not that all local authorities were in profit. Of the 22, five – Torfaen, Flintshire, Newport, Vale of Glamorgan and Blaenau Gwent – recorded a deficit (‘loss’) on their parking activities. Nor is the level of profit necessarily indicative of one authority’s parking charges and enforcement policy versus another. The size of a council also has to be considered. However with significant sums of money being raised the big question is what it is being used for.
The numbers are revealed in analysis for the RAC Foundation by transport consultant David Leibling of the official accounts councils must legally make each year to the Welsh Government.
The surplus or deficit is calculated by taking parking income (on- and off-street parking charges and penalties) and deducting the costs of providing the parking. This is the full surplus/deficit table going back to 2007-8:
|Surplus (in £,000s)|
|2007-08||2008-09||2009-10||2010-11||2011-12||2012-13||% change 2012-13 on 2011-12|
|7||Rhondda Cynon Taf||168||228||456||467||353||478||35%|
|14||Neath Port Talbot||-148||-214||-271||-84||283||247||-13%|
|17||Isle of Anglesey||-26||-31||71||89||51||55||8%|
|21||Vale of Glamorgan||-171||-126||-98||-18||-123||-238||93%|
However the combined profit is 7% below that seen in the previous year (£9.3 million). But the report shows that despite this slight year on year decline the income figure for all councils from parking (before costs are deducted) is now at a record high of £30.4 million.
Cardiff (£6.2 million) and Swansea (£4.4 million) top the income table followed by Carmarthenshire (£2.1 million).
One reason why the national surplus figure has fallen despite a record level of income is because the cost to councils of running their parking operations (£21.8 million) has been rising.
The beauty of the numbers is that they are official. None of the councils can dispute the calculations because this is the data they themselves submit to the Welsh Government.
As ever with parking, the story is less about the numbers and more about what the councils are trying to achieve. Parking must always be about managing congestion, not raising money and we would recommend that all local authorities produce an annual parking report detailing their parking strategy.
Of course, most people, including drivers, recognise the need for parking enforcement. You only have to look at the chaos caused in Aberystwyth back in 2011 when there was no parking enforcement.
The Foundation’s work on parking in Wales come after we published last December similar analysis of the figures for the 353 English parking councils which revealed that they made a profit of £594 million in 2012-13.