The number of parking tickets issued by Lancashire County Council has leapt by more than a third in the last two years – but still fell short of the growth in income the authority was expecting.

During the 2023/24 financial year, 64,391 penalty charge notices (PCNs) were handed out for contravening parking rules, up from 47,080 in 2021/22.

The fines relate largely to the on-street spaces for which the county council is responsible and not off-street car parks, which – with the exception of the facility at Preston bus station and some car parks in Lancaster – are under the control of district councils or private companies.

County Hall says some of the increase can be attributed to a return to more normal levels of traffic compared to the earlier part of the pandemic.

In the 12 months to April, the combined income generated by both parking and bus lane PCNs in the county council area stood at £4.37 million – a 30 per cent increase on 2021/22, in spite of a fall in the number of fines issued for bus-restriction breaches within that timeframe.

However, the surplus from that income amounted to £1.42m in 2023/24, after expenses of £3.1m were taken into account. They include the cost of employing parking wardens and maintaining equipment.

Expenditure increased by around £700,000 in comparison to the previous year – as a result of a staff pay award and the filling of previous vacancies – meaning the surplus actually fell slightly from £1.48m in 2022/23.

A finance report presented to a recent meeting of the authority’s scrutiny management board forecast a “large…under recovery of income on parking and bus lane enforcement”.

However, the shortfall – within the highways budget – was predicted to be “more than offset” by greater than expected income from utility companies working on the roads and from support provided to housing developers.

As was revealed earlier this year, plans to expand on-street pay and display facilities across Lancashire have been hugely scaled back after most district authorities said they did not want them in their towns.

Commenting on the parking fine figures in a statement, Peter Bell, Lancashire County Council’s regulation and enforcement manager, said: “Poor parking can endanger other people’s safety and cause congestion – and the reason we enforce parking restrictions is to make sure that people can reach their destination safely and efficiently.

“In busy town and city centres, it’s also important to manage availability of spaces so that people can find somewhere convenient to park, which supports the local economy.

“The number of parking penalties that we issue has grown as traffic levels have recovered following the Covid pandemic – and our targeting of enforcement in response to parking problems has become more effective.

“Most of the income we receive from parking enforcement goes towards the cost of providing the service, with any leftover going towards maintaining our highways,” Mr. Bell added.