Councils in England have generated a record combined parking ‘profit’ of £594million through charges and fines.
The figures released by the RAC Foundation show the surplus for 2012-13 is a five per cent increase from the previous year. Unsurprisingly, the capital’s local authorities dominate the top 10 with Westminster collecting £39.7million. Brighton (£16.25m), Nottingham (£11.79m) and Manchester (£8.77m) were the only places on the high-earners list outside London.
The surplus is calculated by deducting running costs from the income generated by parking charges and penalty notices. Just 52 (15 per cent) of the 353 parking authorities in England reported a loss.
Budgets submitted to the Department for Communities and Local Government by local authorities suggest the surplus for the current financial year could top £600m.
The high figures come just weeks after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced plans to target ‘aggressive’ and ‘over zealous’ parking policies.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said it was a case of ‘déjà vu’ with parking incomes up yet expenditure on roads and road safety down.
He said: “The government’s recent decision to consult on changes to parking rules and regulations is timely and we have always argued that at the very least all councils should publish an annual parking report to explain how much money is collected from drivers and, just as importantly, where that cash is going.
“It might be that some of the extra ‘profit’ has arisen because councils’ costs for running parking services have been reduced but drivers need to know this.
“There’s no disputing the figures we have looked at. They are the numbers the councils themselves submit to central government. What’s more, council budgets show that the surplus for the current year is set to be higher still.”
However, Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association’s economy and transport board, defended the statistics and said the councils were on the side of motorists.
“This report further peddles the myth that councils are using parking charges to raise money,” he said.
“Councils do not make a profit from parking. All income from charges and fines is spent on running parking services and any surplus goes on essential transport projects such as bringing our dilapidated road network up to scratch and providing subsidised bus travel for children or elderly residents."