Local authorities share €115m in parking fees

Clamping costs councils but parking pays, as Dublin City nets more than €20m a year

Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 11:42

Local authorities are making over €115m a year from parking fees, with the five city councils netting some €46million between them, new figures reveal.

The figures show that while clamping almost always costs councils more to run than the release fees generates, it protects pay parking, which is a significant source of income.

For example, the clamping service in Dublin city generated release fees of just €4.3 million last year, compared to €6.1m cost of providing the service.

Overall, the cost of the clamping service - which is run by private operator Dublin Street Parking Services - amounts to some €10m per year, including the costs of collection of money and metering. Dublin City Council made a profit of about €20m out of a total parking income of almost €30m in 2013.

While Dublin is the star performer in terms of income, Cork city generated €9m from parking, Galway earned €3.5m and €4m was collected in Limerick and Waterford, according to the latest figures.

In each case, the local authority revenue stream was greater than its costs.

Critics have expressed fears that cash-strapped councils are increasingly tempted to look at parking as a revenue generating exercise, while city and town centre businesses in places like Dun Laoghaire, Bray and Rathmines have warned of the drift of shoppers to free parking in out-of-town shopping malls.

Fine Gael Senator Paul Coughln has called for the extension of commercial rates to such car parks saying it would generate additional income for local authorities, and address negative impacts on town centres. “This inequity, if left unchecked, will contribute to the erosion of the social, economic and community functions of Irish town centres and lead to dereliction, urban decay and the associated costs imposed on the wider society,” he added.

Dublin City Council releases an annual report on parking each April. The most recent report for 2012 showed one car had been clamped 63 times, incurring release fees of more than €5,000.

The amount of repeat offenders at 27 per cent prompted a recommendation in the report that the fine be increased from €80 to €130. However, a spokesman for the council yesterday said the release fee was fixed by law, and the council had no power to alter it.

Dublin City Council yesterday revealed the street on which cars were clamped most frequently last year was Merrion Square West, which saw 694 clamps.

A spokesman said there was a sense that clampers were “waiting for people” but the figures showed even Merrion Square West featured less than two clamps per day.

In 2013 the top ten streets for enforcement were :

1) Merrion Square. West, which saw 694 instances of clamping

2)Mespil Road which saw 666 clamping instances

3) Pearse Street which saw 639 clamping incidents

4) Dominick St Lower which saw 637 clamping incidents

5) Ormond Quay Upper which saw 631 clamping incidents.