DRIVERS across Cumbria have paid almost £1.4m in on-street parking fines over the last full financial year – an increase of more than £300,000 on the previous 12 months.

The figures emerged as part of a county council’s parking services annual report discussed at this week’s meeting of the Local Committee for Allerdale.

Between April 1 2018 and March 31 2019, traffic wardens have issued a total of 34,903 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for on-street parking contraventions across the county – fewer than in the previous year.

However, parking chiefs have actually received more money, a cash increase they have attributed to the use of enforcement agents to recover unpaid PCNs.

Coun Carni McCarron-Holmes praised the “diligence” of enforcement officers in targeting drivers who flout the rules and in pursuing unpaid parking fines.

She added: “Parking is one of the most singular biggest concerns in town centres and in residential areas because of the growing number of cars per household.

“Those streets were never built for the number of cars that populate them now.”

The meeting heard that parking enforcement measures would become an  increasingly important source of revenue as local authorities contend with “many million pounds” of cuts in central government funding.

Coun Celia Tibble, Cabinet member for Environment, described parking enforcement as a “double-edged sword”.

The council wants people to park safely but, equally, surplus cash generated from PCNs is ploughed back into the service.

This helps to fund important parking and safety initiatives across the region.

Parents parking inconsiderately outside schools, and drivers obstructing drop kerbs for wheelchair users and prams were among the main issues raised.

Parking teams are also working to crack down on the abuse of the Blue Badge system, an initiative intended to allow disabled drivers and passengers park nearer to their destination.

Enforcement teams are working closely with schools in a bid to educate parents, with measures including traffic cones in some zonea and banners intended to encourage considerate parking.

Coun Alan Barry, who chaired, the meeting stressed the importance of educating parents in a bid to teach them “good habits” rather than simply ticketing them in the first instance.

He said: “If they still continue to park outside then they should get a ticket, but after they have been warned.

“Some of them just don’t care. They don’t park their cars: they just abandon them without any thought or cause to any child’s health and safety or even for adults for that matter.”

In 2018/18, the council spent £21,497 compared to £64,819 in the previous year, which includes the cost of delivering the service.

Overall, the council paid out £160,182 which means the service has come under budget by £138,685.

A total of 7,086 PCNs were issued across Allerdale between April 1 2018 and March 31 2019.

And in the last seven months of the present financial year, a total of 5,470 were issued across the borough.