I RECENTLY suggested in this column that to help regenerate Helston, the council could consider converting the Trengrouse Way car park into housing, with a section retained for free shopper parking.
However, it seems I need to put my hands up and admit I wrongly assumed that the car park generates only a small amount of revenue.
Following an information request to the council, it was revealed that the the car park raises more than £100,000 each year, far greater than my estimated £30,000 to £40,000.
Helston’s other council-run car parks at Tyacke Road, Castle Green and the Cattle Market generate almost the same amount, with a combined figure of £200,000 over the last 12 months.
A wider look at car parks across the county reveal more than £16 million was raised from motorists in 2016, with Penzance and Falmouth contributing almost £1.5 million each.
Although the numbers might seem eye-wateringly large, this income is returned to the council’s general accounts and used to off-set the costs of other council services – costs that would otherwise need to be met by local council tax payers. Responsibilities include road maintenance, social housing, libraries, museums, waste collection, building and planning control, maintenance of parks and public spaces and vitally – supporting children’s education and looking after the elderly and vulnerable.
Cornwall Council has revealed a large budget gap with £75 million of savings needed to be made over the next four years. It’s clear to see that losing significant revenue generated from car parks would not be practical.
Whether or not you feel the council is profiteering from parking operations, we still need to haul Helston town centre back to life. Our community needs to put forward fresh ideas for growth that doesn’t involve losing the council much-needed revenue, and we can’t afford to sit back and moan, we need to be ambitious because that’s what local people deserve.