Tue, 07 Aug 2018
A CAR parking deal with Newbury’s Parkway has boosted council coffers by £1.8m since the shopping centre opened in 2011.
West Berkshire Council and Parkway both say the deal, which is linked to charges in council-owned car parks, is testament to the centre’s success.
And a senior councillor says that it “wouldn’t be easy” to fund some highways projects without the income.
When the development of Parkway was being debated, a deal was proposed for a 50-50 split in parking profits between the council and Parkway owner Standard Life Investments for a decade.
The deal covered council-run car parks in Newbury and was based on the assumption that Parkway would draw thousands of extra shoppers into the town.
The Newbury Weekly News asked, via a Freedom of Information request, how much money the council had paid since the centre opened to Parkway’s owner, now named Standard Life Aberdeen.
And, while it was revealed that the council has paid out £186,600 since 2012, its net receipt has been £1,809,792 for the period.
The council said that the 50-50 split had been dropped after it became clear that the original calculation method was “too complicated, cumbersome and time-consuming for both sides”.
Instead, a simplified system results in the council paying £31,100 for 10 years, but continuing to receive the payments from SLI in perpetuity.
Furthermore, SLI’s payment increases each time the council raises its parking charges, but the council’s yearly payment remains fixed.
The Parkway car park is subject to a separate deal. Before construction began at Parkway, the council sold public land to SLI for £1 on the basis that a fee of around £300,000 was received in parking revenue each year.
West Berkshire Council’s executive member for highways and transport Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft) said the deal reflected the “outstanding success of the Parkway development” and a good deal for the council and shopping centre.
She said: “The wide range of high quality and safe parking the council provides in and around the town makes Parkway an even more attractive choice for shoppers and other visitors.
“It’s an excellent example of the council and businesses working together for the benefit of everyone.
“The income goes into the parking budget and therefore contributes towards the huge amount we spend on traffic services each year – on parking, yes, but also on activities like traffic and road safety, blue badges, road marking and much more, all of them important to everyday life in the district.
“Without the Parkway contract, we’d have to find extra money elsewhere and I won’t pretend that would be easy.”
The car parks included in the agreement are Northbrook multi-storey, Corn Exchange, Library, Central, Football Club, Northcroft Lane, Northcroft Lane West, Pelican Lane, Council staff (Saturdays), West Street and The Wharf.
With the council increasing the cost to park in the town centre in recent years, the NWN asked Parkway for its view on the deal and what it spent the council’s money on.
A spokesperson for Aberdeen Standard Investments said: “The car parking charges at Parkway, Newbury, are set by the council’s limits.
“As a result, the parking fees are in line with other car parks in the town and we’re confident that they do not deter customers.
“Footfall at the centre is increasing year on year and has done so since opening, which is testament to the retail offer at Parkway and investment we’ve made in the centre.”