Councils slash road budgets despite £165m increase in parking revenues

Councils’ net profit from parking has risen from £682m to £847m in five years while road budgets has fallen £400m in the same period

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Local councils have seen a £165m rise in the net revenue generated by their parking operations over the last four years, yet have slashed spending on local roads by £400m over the same period.

Official figures show local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales made £847 million in net revenue from all forms of parking charges and fines in 2017/18, compared with £682 million in 2013/14. Adjusted for inflation, this represents a 10 per cent increase.

Yet the amount spent by councils on roads has decreased from £2.8 billion in 2013/14 to £2.4 billion in 2017/18. This equates to a 21 per cent decrease, again adjusted for inflation.

Councils collect £42m from bus lane fines

The analysis, which comes from comparison website Confused.com, shows local authorities in 101 out of 176 areas have increased their net income from parking, 87 of which have simultaneously reduced their road spending. 

Newport was the authority that increased its parking profits the most over four years – rising from £16,000 to £306,000 – followed by Leicester City and Havering. 

AuthorityNet parking profit in 2013/14Net parking profit in 2017/18Percentage increase (adjusted for inflation)
Newport£16,000£306,0001,645.7 per cent
Leicester City£631,000£3,658,000429.2 per cent
Havering£758,000£3,614,000335.2 per cent
Wrexham£-149,000 (cost of services exceeded revenue)£301,000284.4 per cent
Argyll & Bute£69,000£274,000262,5 per cent

Another notable example is Westminster City Council, which made a £69 million net revenue from parking in 2017/18. Adjusted for inflation, this represents a 43 per cent increase from 2013/14’s figure of £44 million.

Parking fees set to rocket as councils plug spending gaps

Some authorities did actually increase the amount they spent on road improvement over the last five years. Hackney Council did so the most, increasing its net roads spending from £7,422,000 in 2013/14 to £13,416,000 in 2017/18 – a 65 per cent increase, adjusted for inflation. However, this didn’t match the 83 per cent increase in its parking profits in the same period.

AuthorityNet roads spending in 2013/14Net roads spending in 2017/18Percentage increase (adjusted for inflation)
Hackney£7,422,000£13,416,00065.0 per cent
Hounslow£10,049,000£17,342,00057.5 per cent
Tower Hamlets£2,753,000£4,559,00051.2 per cent
East Renfrewshire£7,051,000£9,925,00028.5 per cent
North-East Lincolnshire£6,481,000£8,315,00017.1 per cent

A separate poll of 2,000 motorists by Confused found 41 per cent of respondents had not noticed any improvements to the conditions of the roads in their area, with 37 per cent saying they are confused as to why more is not being done to improve road conditions. 

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, said: “While councils are justified in charging for parking and issuing fines for illegal parking, many motorists are confused about why this money isn’t being re-invested into our roads.”

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