St Helens Council was left with a £119,000 kitty from surplus parking revenue in a 12-month period, new figures have revealed.
Figures released by the RAC Foundation showed the amount of money the local authority is ending up with from the borough’s car parks is also going up.
The town hall’s 2016-17 surplus was up on the £99,000surplus it had at its disposal in 2015-16.
The figure recorded in the last financial year was the 282th highest in the country and council chiefs assured the residents the money left over from the cost of maintaining the car parks was being spent wisely and being ploughed directly into relevant infrastructure work.
A St Helens Council spokesman said: “Since 2011 St Helens Council has frozen parking charges and offered concessions such as free parking on Saturdays and free after 3pm, however in light of the need to make savings this year of £7.4 million and the requirement to protect vital services such as child and adult social care, this can no longer be the case.
“With the unprecedented level of savings to be made and the need to protect essential services, together with the raising costs to maintain the car parks, we have little choice but to increase parking charges in the town centre.
“This is the first increase in charges since 2011 and we will still maintain discounted parking in the town on Saturdays with the charge of 50 pence for up to two hours.
“Even with the increase, parking in St Helens town centre is still cheaper than surrounding towns where charges apply.
“Parking permits for businesses and individuals have not increased.”
The research, done on behalf of the RAC Foundation by transport consultant David Leibling, was calculated by taking the income from parking charges and penalty notices and then deducting each council’s running costs.
Nationally Westminster had the largest surplus in the country with £73.2m, with the biggest amount outside the capital coming in Brighton and Hove which had £21.2m.
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: ““The silver lining for drivers is that these surpluses must almost exclusively be ploughed back into transport and as any motorist will tell you there is no shortage of work to be done.
“We welcome the fact that councils are increasingly investing in technology to help make parking easier and less stressful.”
Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, claimed councils must “strike a balance” when setting charges in a bid to ensure there are parking spaces available.
He said: “(Parking charges) help not only keep the roads clear but keep pedestrians, motorists and cyclists safe and ensure people can park near their homes and local shops.”
Mr Tett said examples of the sort of work the surplus revenue was used for were tackling the national £12bn roads repair backlog and creating new parking spaces.