Auditors reprimand North Dorset over parking charges

28 May 15

Auditors have concluded that North Dorset District Council acted unlawfully by increasing parking charges in 2012/13 in an attempt to raise revenue to fund general services.

In a public interest report on the authority, auditors Grant Thornton said it had received an objection to the council's 2012/13 accounts, which stated the council had increased its parking charges for inappropriate, and therefore potentially unlawful, reasons.

Publishing a report on the matter on Tuesday, Grant Thornton director John Gregory said its investigation had concluded the council decided to increase fees in 2012/13 to support other services, which was unlawful.

‘In investigating an objection to increased parking charges in the 2012/13 accounts we concluded that the Road Traffic Regulation Act, which gives councils powers to charge for off-street parking, does not allow them to seek to deliberately make a surplus from these charges to fund other services,’ he added.

‘We acknowledge that councils need to look at all possible ways of balancing the books in this time of austerity, but any income generation must be undertaken within the confines of the law.’

Gregory said the authority had recognised its error and would ensure all future fees and charges are set in the context of the specific requirements of relevant legislation.

In a statement, council leader Deborah Croney said: ‘We accept the auditors findings and recommendations and have already addressed the issue.’

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