Councils make extra £60m from parking charges and fines

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Councils in England made a surplus of £756m from parking operations in 2015/16

The amount of money councils in England generated from parking charges and fines has risen by more than £60m in the past year, research has found.

The RAC Foundation said local authorities made a surplus of £756m in 2015/16 – 9% higher than in 2014/15.

Director Steve Gooding said the “eye-wateringly large” amounts reflected growing competition for parking spaces.

The Local Government Association (LGA) insisted councils did not make a profit from parking.

The surplus figure was calculated by looking at the income councils received from parking charges and penalty notices minus their running costs.

Income was up by 4% and costs fell by 2% in the past year, according to the RAC, while the surplus figure was 34% higher than in 2011/12.

‘Cash cow’

Mr Gooding said: “Parking charges are one of the tools councils use to keep traffic moving whilst also allowing people reasonable and affordable access to High Street shops and other facilities.

“The good news is that any profit generated by councils from on-street parking must by law be spent on transport-related activities, and as every motorist knows there’s no shortage of work that needs doing.”

The largest surpluses came from London, with its 33 local authorities accounting for 44% of the country’s total.

The biggest amount outside of the capital was the £20.1m surplus in Brighton and Hove, followed by Nottingham’s £13.6m.

Top 10

  1. Westminster (£55.9m)
  2. Kensington and Chelsea (£34.2m)
  3. Camden (£25.2m)
  4. Hammersmith and Fulham (£22.7m)
  5. Wandsworth (£21.2m)
  6. Brighton and Hove (£20.1m)
  7. Islington (£15.5m)
  8. Haringey (£14.9m)
  9. Nottingham (£13.6m)
  10. Hackney (£12.9m)

The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, said local authorities must “strike a balance” when setting charges to ensure there were parking spaces available and traffic was not held up.

Transport spokeswoman Judith Blake added: “Income from on-street parking charges is spent on running parking services and surpluses are spent on essential transport projects, such as tackling the £12bn roads repair backlog, creating new parking spaces and providing subsidised bus travel for children or elderly residents.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government said it was supporting a private member’s bill by Conservative MP David Tredinnick to make it easier for English councils to lower parking charges at short notice.

A spokesman added: “We’ve been clear councils shouldn’t use parking as a cash cow and many recognise the benefits that reduced or free parking has on encouraging footfall on the High Street.”