CASH COW: The public car park in Barnard Castle town centre
CASH COW: The public car park in Barnard Castle town centre

MOTORISTS have forked out more than £200,000 to park in a Barnard Castle car park during the past year, it was revealed last week.

The information came to light after Bowes resident Phil Hughes made a request to Durham County Council, under the Freedom of Information Act.

He said: “I’ve often wondered how much money Galgate car park generates, so I asked about the last financial year.”

He says he was staggered to learn the council pay and display car park near Morrisons generated income of £222,035.25 between April 1, 2018, to March 31 this year.

Barnard Castle has two council-run car parks, both of which operate a pay-and-display system. The cost to park up to one hour in the Galgate car park is 80p.

Parking fees were introduced by Teesdale District Council 26 years ago to “resolve off street parking facilities for tourists and shoppers”.

Free roadside parking in the town centre is limited to two hours with the same time limit for the cobbles in Market Place. However parking is prohibited on the cobbles on Wednesdays for the market.

Mr Hughes was a member of the district council when parking charges were first discussed for Barnard Castle. At the time, he said he didn’t think charging people to park in town would resolve the long-standing parking problem.

As well as cash generated from tickets there was income from 1,136 penalty charge notices issued for the same period, which if paid within 14 days is halved to £25.

Although Mr Hughes also requested the costs of administering the car park, county officials were less forthcoming with figure. They said: “Car parks are subject to the following expenditure, non domestic rates, water rates, electricity charges, VAT (on P and D income), enforcement, administration and management, maintenance, cash collections. Any surplus can be used for subsidising the provision of public transport as well as improvements to signs and road marking within County Durham.”

Mr Hughes added: “My finger in the air analysis suggests money is collected from parking across the county and used to provide lower cost parking in and around the city centre in Durham.”

Dave Wafer, strategic traffic manager at Durham County Council, said: “Parking availability can strongly influence a driver’s choice of destination, which is why it’s so important that we manage the use of our car parks in busier towns to ensure that we have spaces available for visitors.

“Parking charges in Barnard Castle are not used to subsidise cheaper parking in Durham City. In fact, the cost of parking in Durham City is higher than in Barnard Castle. There is also ample free on-street parking in Barnard Castle.”