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Kent councils lose £3m in revenue a month due to lost parking fees amid Covid-19 crisis

Kent councils are losing at least £3 million of revenue every month due to the loss of parking fees during the pandemic.

Canterbury City Council is seeing in excess of £600,000 shrink from its income each month as car parks shut, people stay at home and the number of tickets handed out plummet.

Swale Borough Council leader reacts to thousands lost in parking charges

The authority has had to put the brakes on plans to transform the city’s high street, extend the Wincheap Park and Ride and upgrade its Kingsmead leisure centre as its vital income streams dry up.

A government grant of £82,500 will do little to ease financial woes, as there was a predicted £3 million shortfall already looming between now and 2023, even before the coronavirus crisis took hold.

And the effects of this key revenue stream shrinking are not just felt by Canterbury.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is losing around £1 million a month due to the emergency, with £600,000 of this from parking charges. However, the authority says it continues to deliver essential services and has no plans to cut any. Dover District Council has made all its car parks free so, although the authority would normally earn around £120,000 per month from tickets, this has now dropped to zero.


Sevenoaks District Council is losing around £360,000 due to the absence of penalty fines and car park use, with Tonbridge and Malling Borough falling £300,000 short and Thanet District Council, £216,000.

Tonbridge and Malling names council tax, business rates and rent as other key areas of loss. Some services to be temporarily suspended, such as the collection of garden waste but this has now resumed today. However, a spokesman said this was due to staffing numbers as opposed to cash flow.

Folkestone and Hythe’s local authority is losing around 95% of its parking income, equating to more than £184,000 a month. Although the council is “working hard to minimise any risk to frontline services” after this “serious depletion to the budget”, staff still see the positives of minus figures. A spokesman said: “It shows that people are respecting the guidelines to stay at home.”

Maidstone Borough Council projects an overall shortfall of £1.4 million this year, arising from lost business rates, council tax and parking services. This equates to around £140,000 a month for the latter. However, it highlights “most council tax and business rates payers are still paying what they owe”.

Hardly any penalty charge notices are being handed out during lockdown
Hardly any penalty charge notices are being handed out during lockdown

Last week, council leader Martin Cox secured £1.7 million extra funding after writing to the government. But this is just a fifth of the amount the authority predicts it may need, so will still need to be spent prudently.

Swale Borough Council is facing similar financial issues, with the government offering £1.5 million to help, but significant reductions of income and additional expenditure is still hitting hard. It has incurred a loss of approximately £160,000 a month so far due to lack of parking fees.

During April, Gravesham Borough Council lost some £120,000 of expected income from car parking and anticipates a reduction of up to 25% over the year, while Ashford Borough Council predicts it will lose around half its annual parking income.

Kent’s only unitary authority, Medway Council, has forecast it could lose as much as £36 million this year as a result of Covid-19, but could not provide specific figures on shortfall from parking.

Dartford Borough Council would not provide figures on the financial impact of the pandemic, advising a Freedom of Information (FOI) would need to be put in to get the information.

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