Welsh councils make £9m on car parking charges in one year

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Media captionThe RAC Foundation said the 22 local authorities should be managing congestion, not raising cash

Welsh councils made a profit of more than £9m from car parking charges last year, according to figures obtained by BBC Wales.

The total is up by more than £600,000 on 2013-14.

It comes as small business workers say they are struggling to survive and car parking charges should be scrapped to encourage shoppers.

The RAC Foundation said the 22 local authorities should be managing congestion, not raising cash.

Cardigan high street recently experienced a short lived boom after parking meters were vandalised. It meant parking was free and shops reported takings were up by around 40% for two weeks before they were fixed.

'Many factors'

Chairman of Cardigan Traders Martin Radley said councils need to rethink their parking charges.

"The fact is when people didn't have to pay, they were shopping and enjoying the experience of shopping. They were staying longer going to the cafes and restaurants and having a coffee in a relaxed manner without having to look at their watches and fear getting a penalty ticket," he said.

Ceredigion council said "many factors" influence footfall, adding that charges in Cardigan are no higher than in similar towns in the local authority area.

Image caption A vandalised parking meter in Cardigan is believed to have been responsible for an increase in visitors to the town

Last year Welsh councils made a profit of nearly £9.3m from car parking charges- an increase of £630,000 on the previous year.

Cardiff council recorded the highest profit with just under £3m made.

While the Vale of Glamorgan made a small profit - £53,000 - that could soon increase.

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Image caption Free parking was withdrawn from seven sites in Pembrokeshire last month. A move aimed at raising £120,000 a year

The council is planning to introduce charges in many areas where parking is currently free, including Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan.

Nadine Price, who works at Arboreal restaurant, said: "The footfall in Cowbridge has dropped horrendously over the past couple of months. We really hope it's not going to have more of an impact, or towns like this just aren't going to last."

Lance Pryor-Collins, who runs Fich and Ramous hairdressers, said it is already difficult to park in the town and charges would put people off from visiting.

'Provide accessibility'

Carmarthenshire council looks set to introduce free parking for two hours at several car parks as a trial.

Councillor Jeff Edmunds said: "I've spoken to a number of traders and they believe whole heartedly it'll have an impact."

While debate over charges continues, RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding questioned some of the profits.

He said: "The local authorities' role is to manage traffic and provide accessibility not to generate excessive surpluses."

Image caption Some local authorities made large profits from parking charges while others lost money from provisions

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