NEARLY £6 million was accrued by the district council’s five highest-earning car parks over the last three years, a freedom of information request has revealed.

The money generated by the sites - spread across Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside - fell by 4.33 per cent between the 2018/19 and 19/20 financial years (April to March).

A spokesman for South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) said revenue fluctuated ‘according to weather and planned works’, pointing out also that the Coronavirus lockdown began in March.

He said a drop in revenue of nine per cent at the Broad Street car park in Windermere over the three financial years coincided with the introduction of a cheaper ‘early-bird’ tariff for motorists that arrived before 9am.

The total earned by the five car parks in the 19/20 financial year was £1,836,576.45, down from £1,919,617.65 the year before.

The two highest earners across the three years were Rayrigg Road, Windermere, and Rydal Road, Ambleside, with both surpassing the half-a-million mark each time. In the 19/20 year, the Rayrigg Road site earned £528,590.05 and Rydal Road £502,443.90.

Cllr Philip Dixon, SLDC portfolio holder for customer and commercial services and people, said the money generated by the car parks was in part responsible for the council being on a ‘very sound financial footing’.

“We’ve been completely rocked by the Covid epidemic but, nonetheless, through the cautious stewardship and well-managed outlook of our officers and our financial portfolio holders over the years, we aren’t in a crisis,” he said.

“Part of that is the money that has been generated through car parking.

“It is a very significant amount of money, and we are aware of that.

“And because of that, that does help with the general running of the council.”

An SLDC spokesman said: “As a council, we recognise that our car parks play an important role in supporting the local economy and the vibrancy of our towns and villages across the district.

“SLDC continues to work hard to deliver good quality car parks in our communities with charges which are affordable and sustainable.”

The top five earning SLDC car parks, from highest-earning to lowest-earning, over the last three financial years were: Rayrigg Road, Windermere; Rydal Road, Ambleside; Glebe Road, Bowness; Braithwaite Fold, Bowness; Broad Street, Windermere.