10:00am Thursday 6th March 2014
By Tom Edwards
THE true cost of Worcester's flooding is finally creeping out - after the city council revealed it led to a £25,000 drop in car parking cash.
Taxpayers are now being warned to expect a hefty overall dent to the public purse once all the costs are factored in.
Last month's rising water levels, which led to the main Worcester Bridge closing and several car parks being cut off, led to drivers shunning the city for more than a week.
The council, which is expecting to get around £2.6 million in car parking revenue this year, says the cash it raked in during February was £25,000 behind budget.
When the floods were at their worst car parks at Pitchcroft and Croft Road were among those to be affected.
The losses could be the tip off the iceberg for the council, which says the clean-up efforts and help offered to householders will see the end cost spiral much higher.
A report is currently being prepared which is expected to reveal the full picture of dealing with the floods.
This year the city council decided to reduce its car parking budget by £300,000, mainly due to a decision to slash prices.
Overall income for the year is slightly better than expected, and is running at a surplus of £95,000 so far, despite February's bleak picture.
The city council's overall revenue budget, the money it gets for services like sports centres, the crematorium and garden waste collections show the 2013/14 financial year could end at a surplus of £149,000.
The council says if that proves to be the case, the extra cash will be added to its transformation plan, a blueprint for saving £4.1 million by 2019.
Lesley Meagher, corporate director of resources, said: "Car parking income for the year has performed well and is better than what we budgeted for, but we've just had the floods.
"I've just been told that car parking income for February is down by £25,000.
"Potentially, there is a surplus for the budget of nearly £150,000 but there are risks that remain, especially around flooding.
"That includes the costs of dealing with the clean-up."
The findings were discussed during a meeting of the performance, management and budget scrutiny committee at the Guildhall.
Car parking prices are rising in April, with the £1 rates after 7pm and 40p for half-an-hour charges being axed.
Some all-day rates are also going up, but St Martin's Gate will remain £3.60 all day.
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