Two topics guaranteed to get drivers steamed up are the cost of parking and the number of potholes in their streets. But many motorists who direct their incentive at “profiteering” town halls probably do not realise that much of the cash they put into ticket machines is ultimately used to repair local roads and upgrade public transport. It simply cannot be used to reduce council debts or subsidise other services.
Once authorities have paid for their parking schemes, they are legally obliged to channel extra money from tickets and fines back into transport projects to reduce congestion and improve safety. A high priority will be street repairs as councils are responsible for the maintenance of all highways other than motorways and A-roads. With an estimated repair backlog of more than £10bn, there is plenty of demand for the unglamorous work of restoring cracked Tarmac and crumbling pavements.
Money can be allocated to pay for concessionary fares for children and the elderly, cycle schemes, bus lanes and pedestrian projects. Its use for filling gaps left by cuts in central government spending is only legal if the cash goes towards transport schemes and councils tempted to ramp up ticket prices as a covert way of raising revenue could be prosecuted. Most town halls publish details of how they spend money from parking costs, and moves are afoot to make this a legal requirement.
That is unlikely to stop irritated drivers from taking aim at easy council targets.
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