The Galway County Council is one of many local authorities across the country that is losing more money than it is generating in the provision and enforcement of on-street parking, that is according to figures released this week.
Figures obtained from local authority budget reports show that despite costly parking fees one in three local authorities are actually spending more money than they are taking in, and there has been much concern that on-street parking has served only to discourage drivers from coming into towns to do their shopping. The figures show that 18 county and town councils are losing money, with Galway in third position. The biggest spender was Kerry County Council with a loss of €541,149 last year, followed by Donegal on €200,163, and then Galway with a loss of €195,365. The next in line was Cork County Council (€161,569 ), Limerick (€108,822 ), Louth (€61,037 ), Cavan (€52,980 ), North Tipperary (€43,295 ), Wicklow (€25,272 ), and South Tipperary (€20,650 ). Of the town councils Ballinasloe was named as one of the high spenders with a spend of almost €325,000 in 2011 but only collecting €252,000.
According to Galway County Council director of services, roads and transportation, Frank Gilmore, income generated from on-street car parking has dropped considerably due to economic circumstances experienced nationally. Mr Gilmore explained: “The costs of parking in County Galway are lower than for instance in Galway city, and the county also has lower minimum charges for parking in order to facilitate quick turnovers in parking spaces, which is essential to ensure that customers of traders in our towns have access to parking spaces in order to shop. The expenditure on parking includes, for instance, annual loan charges of up to €200,000 to cover borrowings for the purchase costs of lands for car parks. There is also the parking management costs, such as the salaries of community wardens who deal with wider issues in relation to parking, other than collection of charges - for instance, to ensure that traffic routes are kept open, management of illegal parking, and keeping disabled parking spaces free. None of these activities generate substantial income but they are nevertheless essential and are cost levied against parking income.”
Mr Gilmore continued: “Galway County Council has and will continue to take measures to ensure that a balance is struck between the provision of any of our services and the benefits to the public and the ratepayers.”