Questions have been raised about the use of council parking revenue after a landmark judicial ruling.
Mrs Justice Lang ruled in the High Court last month that Barnet Council did not have the power under the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act “to charge local residents for parking in order to raise ‘surplus revenue for other transport purposes’.”
The ruling sparked debate in the national press about the legitimacy of councils using parking revenue to pay for other services.
Earlier this month, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles continued his own crusade against soaring parking fees saying: “Parking charges and fines are not a cash cow for town halls.”
The debate has raised concerns about the amount of revenue Cherwell District Council raises from parking and the uses it is put to.
Banbury businessman Malcolm Douglas believes the council should offer free parking in the town centre to encourage business on the high street.
He said: “The other councils in the area manage their finances so they can give free parking. If they can do it, so should we.
“You can’t tell me that putting revenue towards other things conforms to the law.”
Cherwell District Council spokesperson Tony Ecclestone confirmed the council raised £2,100,000 from all forms of parking revenue last year.
The council confirmed it spent £840,000 on maintaining parking services including “paying seven wardens, other staff, enforcement costs, maintenance and repairs to car parks and equipment, equipment purchases and licences, as well as usual overhead costs.”
When asked where the remaining £1,260,000 is spent, council spokesperson Jemma Callow said: “The net income helped the council to meet its budget target, maintain council tax at no increase, and reduce the level of other service cuts as a consequence of reduced Government funding which would have been required if budgeted income had not been met.”