Cautious drivers 'leave council with a £1m black hole'

ISLINGTON Council has a £1million ""black hole"" in its finances – because cautious drivers are getting fewer tickets, it is claimed.

ISLINGTON Council has a £1million "black hole" in its finances - because cautious drivers are getting fewer tickets, it is claimed.

A shortfall of between £700,000 and £1.4 million is expected in parking revenue this year as hard-hit motorists take much more care not to get fined.

Finance chief Andrew Cornwell made the admission at an Islington Town Hall meeting.

Warning his colleagues on the council executive of the impact of the credit crunch, he said: "This financial report is very different from financial reports I have been able to give you in the past.

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"I have been warning for several months that times are going to get hard. The rainy day that we have been putting money aside for has arrived."

He added: "A lot of this is due to a shortfall in parking money and it is related to the economy. People are more careful on compliance with parking regulations in this situation."

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Barrie Segal, who fronts, a ticket appeal website, said: "Parking is not intended to raise revenue - in fact it is illegal to specifically raise money from parking fines. If there is a black hole in their finances caused by less parking fines it would suggest they have been using it as a revenue raiser."

Mark Wallace, of the Taxpayer's Alliance, said: "This proves what motorists have long suspected - councils do exploit parking fines as a revenue stream. If that income is now falling the council have only themselves to blame for relying on it as a source of income when they weren't meant to."

Councillor James Murray, Islington Labour's spokesman on environment, said: "Islington's Lib-Dems have had to admit what we have all suspected - they run parking for profit, not for people. We are calling on the council to give a fair deal for people on parking and stop treating it like some endless money-pot."

But Councillor Greg Foxsmith (Lib-Dem) said: "We control parking to protect spaces for residents and to stop roads getting clogged. If everyone parked correctly there would be no parking revenue. Things are moving in the right direction with a fall in revenue as more park correctly and that is reflected in our budget.

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