James Evison 15 October 2012

Pickles calls for councils to reveal parking cash

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has called on councils to reveal the amount they bring in from parking charges.

The transparency drive was announced after Whitehall figures showed the annual income from parking was £1.27bn last year, and follows the wide-ranging amendments to The Code of Recommended Practice for Local Authorities on Data Transparency, which will introduce not only transparency standards on parking charges but also pay and expenditure over £500.

Included in the code are plans for councils to publish the number of on-street and off-street bays provided, and the associated income of the facilities.

Shopping design consultant Mary Portas issued a report earlier this year, which claimed free parking was integral to the success of the high street, as it would allow towns to operate on an equal footing with out-of-town shopping centres.

Eric Pickles said: ‘We are ending an era of bureaucratic accountability and replacing it with a more open era of democratic accountability. It is right that taxpayers get to see how Town Halls spend their hard earned taxes so they can properly hold local politicians to account.

‘Finally all councils have taken up the £500 transparency challenge but publication is only happening in fits and starts. By writing Town Hall transparency into law we can make certain every citizen gets open and equal access to information about local public expenditure.

‘As part of that we will expose a great council cash cow cover-up unmasking punitive parking practices that hit residents in the pocket. We’re calling time on local war against motorists – now, more than ever, we need to see the back of this shopping tax and encourage more people onto the high street.’

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