Edinburgh council loses £8m in parking charges during pandemic

Fewer cars on the streets led to a significant reduction in income from parking tickets and permits.

Edinburgh council loses £8m in parking charges during pandemic iStock

Edinburgh council has lost £8m in parking charges over the pandemic, it has emerged.

Fewer cars on the streets of the capital since the first lockdown was imposed in March 2020 led to a significant reduction in income from parking tickets, permits, impound costs and bus lane penalties.

Lost parking revenue makes up £8m of a total £39m financial hit experienced by Edinburgh City Council during the pandemic, which was accounted for in last year’s budget.

Figures published online by the council show that in 2020/21, the first year of the pandemic, there were 92,758 fewer parking tickets issued in Edinburgh than the previous year, resulting in a loss of over £3m.

In addition, 18,094 fewer bus lane camera notices were issued – a third less than in 2019/2020 – leading to losses of £280,613.

Meanwhile, on-street parking income dropped by more than £11m, permit income by £5000 and impound income by £10,640.

A report prepared ahead of the Finance and Resources Committee on Thursday shows lost parking income has had the single greatest impact on the local authority’s income over the last two years.

A reduction in council tenants’ rent accounted for a loss of £5m, the absence of a dividend from Lothian Buses cost £6m and an additional £5m was spent tackling homelessness.

Edinburgh Leisure, which has recorded losses of around £20m during the pandemic, received £6m, whilst £1m was spent supporting the council’s other external organisations.

Procuring PPE accounted for  £1m and £7m was spent on other areas of increased expenditure, or reduced income linked to the pandemic such as support payments for businesses and additional waste and cleaning staff.

The report notes parking income has “levelled off in recent weeks”, with weekly revenue over the past two months on average £0.085m lower than before the pandemic.

Furthermore, last week’s Transport and Environment Committee heard there are “signs of recovery” in the council’s parking income which will be “closely monitored”.

Since April 2021, the council has made £23,986,114 from parking charges, with £15,441,540 from the purchase of pay and display tickets.

A council spokesperson said: “As has been experienced by all local authorities, Covid has had a significant impact in terms of income loss.

“As a result the revised 2021/22 budget makes provisions for these impacts, including a reduction in parking revenue.

“While there have been some signs of recovery with regard to parking income over the last year, we do not expect an immediate return to pre-Covid levels.

“Therefore we will continue monitoring the situation closely in order to address future years’ savings requirements and maintain the stability of the budget framework.”

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