BRADFORD Council is on track to lose up to £1 million in parking fees and charges as the effects of the coronavirus continue.

According to figures obtained by the AA, it is forecast to lose more than £700,000 in revenue.

Leeds City Council could have a hole in its budget of £1.1m, while Kirklees, Calderdale and Craven Councils are forecast to receive about the same.

The figures released to the AA by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government show that local authorities across the country were anticipating to bank more than £885 million in parking fees alone, but lockdown and the suspension of parking charges throughout the Covid-19 crisis period means councils will not receive the income they budgeted for when they drew up their plans for the year in February.

The motoring organisation says this has now put councils in a difficult position as they decide what to do next. Many use parking charge income to pay for road improvements and pothole repairs, so may be tempted to reapply the charge as quickly as possible. However, as local High Streets start to re-open many independent retailers are asking councils to keep parking free so they have a better chance of recovery.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “If councils weren’t already under significant pressure, they’ll be bracing themselves even more as they see a huge chunk of their income for the year lost.

“For being so dependent on this income stream, councils are now stuck at a crossroad; waive the fees entirely and absorb the financial hit, or reapply them and risk hurting, or worse, losing businesses that bring in business rates and jobs in their towns.”

“This loss of revenue should also act as a wakeup call to towns and cities intent on banning drivers from their centres. If they ban cars completely, they need to be prepared to lose a huge chunk of a major income source.”

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “The current pandemic has inevitably had an impact on the income received from parking fees.

“Prior to the pandemic, the Council had expected to receive approximately £3m from car parks and on-street parking this financial year. The loss from parking charges is expected to be approximately £0.8m by the end of July, and the full year loss could increase significantly depending on how quickly the city and town centres re-open for business, and people resume going out and about as before.

“Parking charges were re-introduced in June at the same level as before the lockdown started and varies depending on location. There is still free parking for critical care workers and the NHS and our towns and villages retain an element of free on - street parking as well.

“In terms of the Tranche 1 Emergency Active Travel Fund, there is £60,000 to provide short term pop-up cycle lanes on every corridor into Bradford city centre. This will include the improvement of existing Cycle Lanes/Cycle measures but will also include new, segregated cycle lanes on the highway. We are currently looking at the impact on business and residential parking and all efforts will be made to retain this parking where appropriate.

“The Government have previously refused to cover any lost income associated with parking. They have now recently announced a scheme that will potentially help Councils cover part of the income that has been lost during the pandemic. The details of the scheme are yet to be released, and we cannot therefore currently evaluate the impact of any lost income.”