Councillors in Bolton have voted against plans to write off £1.5m worth of debt owed by the local authority's parking operator.
Bolton Council said National Car Parks Ltd (NCP), which has been contracted since 2009 to run its car parks, had suffered a significant loss of income due to Covid-19 restrictions, with patronage not yet back to pre-pandemic levels.
NCP is required to make monthly payments to the council. According to a report, the firm’s outstanding debt to the authority totals £3.84m.
Following a ‘period of constructive dialogue’ with NCP, the local authority proposed writing off almost £1.5m of the debt, to be funded by a ‘dedicated bad debt provision’.
However, at a full council meeting last week, councillors voted for a motion to reject the proposal.
Cllr David Grant, who put forward the motion, said there was ‘no justification’ to the local taxpayer for writing off the debt.
He added: ‘I cannot justify increasing council tax for ordinary residents when we are being so loose with monies owed to the council.’
A Bolton Council spokesperson said: ‘During the pandemic Bolton was impacted by both national lockdowns and local restrictions, significantly affecting our town centre economy.’
Councils across the UK have faced similar decisions, the spokesperson added.
Following the vote last week, Bolton’s cabinet plans to review the proposal in January.