Monday, 23 December 2013

Parking 'brings £594m surplus for English councils'

From the BBC:

Councils are making record surpluses from parking charges and fines, according to the RAC Foundation.

In 2012-13 local authorities in England made a "profit" of £594m from parking activities, the organisation said.Seven of the 10 greatest surpluses were in London - including all the top four. The largest was £39.7m in Westminster.

This is exactly what should be happening. The point of car park charging is rationing, and in higher land value areas, you're going to charge more. Considering how automated parking is and the running costs, there should be an surplus in London.

If you look at the list on the BBC article, at least 8 of the 10 are in high land value areas: 7 in London + Brighton. I'm not sure what the situation is with Manchester and Nottingham, but these are basically councils renting out land to the higher bidders, effectively. People are going to bid more in London and Brighton than Wolverhampton.

Now, let's imagine that Westminster made no profit on parking and it did this by lowering charges. At this point, you aren't now prioritising parking on who will pay the most to rent a space, which is arguably about the best form of rationing, but on who gets out of bed first in the morning.And of course, as you've lowered the cost, they'll probably stay in the parking space longer, sipping a latte in Starbucks for longer, rather than getting out and going home and freeing up the space for someone else to use. That's a less functional system than what happens now.

And the excess goes to the council, and that council spends it on local people, who are also people who have paid for the privilege of living near certain locations that parkers are enjoying, so someone travelling in should also pay those costs that then (via the council) go back to the residents. When I went to the Bath Literature Festival, I paid for parking to go to a festival that the council tax payers of Bath had subsidised. Seems only fair to me that those council tax payers should collect any excess parking charge from outsiders that arises from a service that they've paid for.

It's not quite an LVT system, as the price is variable, and there's a benefit with town centre or tourist parking in getting people to get a move on (which is why the prices start to rise after 2 hours). But it's not far off, and it works.
Added by MW, from The Metro:

Local government minister Brandon Lewis said parking fees became ‘an unjust form of arbitrary taxation’ under the Labour administration. Using them to raise revenue ‘was contrary to the long-standing principles of the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights.’

The man is a complete and utter fucknut.


Lola said...

Agreed. But. At the moment they also 'make profits' from 'penalty notices'. Now, I am not sure about this, but I rekon that's a form of extortion - that is law enforcement is not an exercise in profit making.

Also, in my town there was a spat in the council when they had to knock down a multi-story with RC failure. They did not sell it on to an operator who would build a new M-S but kept it as a single flat site because they had no funds to build a new M-S. How much better to sell it it collect LVT. Even without LVT they'd've got lots of Bus Rates. The no sale was an ideological thing.

Lola said...

..sorry previous post not clear. By penalty notices I do not mean overstaying on your parking ticket duration, but getting a ticket for parking on a yellow line. But I suppose that is also a form of LVT - if the penalty ticket was cheap you'd just park 'illegally' whatever.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed, parking charges is one of my favourite topics. They are a necessary evil and do serve a useful purpose - if the spaces belonged to private owner he would probably charge just as much.

But what is really annoying is when they make it difficult to pay, even if you want to, when the rules are unclear and so on. And these £50 penalties are spiteful and pointless, by all means charge an extra £1 or £2 per hour or whatever, but not £50 etc.

Apparently, Westminster gets more from parking charges than from council tax, which might explain why their council tax is so low.