Crown car park misses first-year revenue target by £300,000
PUBLISHED: 11:21 22 September 2019
The multi-million pound Crown car park in Ipswich town centre has missed its first revenue target by almost £300,000, we can reveal.
Opening six months later than expected in July 2018, the £5.5million car park was built on the land behind Crown Pools, with 500 short-stay parking spaces designed to make shopping in the town centre quicker and easier for visitors.
But after 12 months of welcoming drivers, figures released through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request show that the council's latest car park missed its first financial target by £286,000.
Just 92 people parked in the car park on June 23 this year - taking £171, while the busiest day, December 20, saw £4,728 paid by 2,124 drivers.
After a slow start to business in August 2018, the car park is now generating a net income of around £12,000 every week - still about £4,000 short of the average weekly target.
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An Ipswich Borough Council spokesman said that contrary to the low figures, the car park's usage has increased every month since its opening.
He added: "We are determined to offer visitors and residents attractive parking charges in the heart of the town and it must be remembered that if it wasn't for the offers available to users of Crown Car Park then other town centre car parks might not have reduced their rates."
His words come following a claim by council leader David Ellesmere that the car park's lower prices "forced" rivals NCP to lower their prices.
The spokesman continued: "We know that year on year there is an increasing demand for car parking in and around the town centre and we remain committed to ensuring that residents of and visitors to Ipswich have convenient, cost-effective car parking in the locations they need and want."
Interestingly, the opening of the car park was not advertised, with Mr Ellesmere justifying the move to ensure staff could address "teething problems".
The council introduced three hours of free parking on Sundays through the summer holidays this year in a bid to pull more people into the town centre, putting money into the high street and leisure activities in Ipswich.
The council's projected earnings for 2018/19 financial year starting April 1 were £854,380, but due to the car park opening later than expected, the first year's revenue starting July 30 has been compared to its target. The 2019/20 projected takings are £1,022,010.