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In 2012, parking fees and fines generated record profits for councils across England according to the latest figures, and it is widely thought that these charges are being used to plug holes in local authority finances.
Figures reveal that in the 2012-2013 financial year, councils received a total 594 million from on and off street parking which is a 5 per cent increase on the previous year.
The figures are calculated by adding the income from parking charges and penalty notices then taking off the running costs, and the results show that only 15 per cent of parking authorities failed to make a profit.
The idea behind parking charges is an attempt by councils to lower the overall congestion in busy urban areas, and they are officially barred from making any sort of charges to generate extra income. However, earlier this year it was revealed that Barnet in north London had inflated the cost of residents’ parking permits to fund road repairs and cheaper bus travel.
This month, ministers will begin a consultation which could result in residents gaining the power to force councils to review their parking rules as part of action on unfair charges.
Latest data from the RAC Foundation has revealed that Westminster council made a profit of £39.7 million from parking – the highest of any local authority. This was followed by Kensington and Chelsea with £30.4 million profit, Camden with £23.5 million and Hammersmith and Fulham with £19.3 million. Outside London, the highest sums went to Brighton and Hove with £16.2 million, Nottingham received £11.7 million and Manchester, £8.7 million.
Figures for 2013 – 2014 financial year are set to be even higher with estimates currently standing at £632 million.
Professor Stephen Glaister, the director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Once again, English councils have made record amounts from parking. Yet overall spending on local roads has fallen by nine per cent over the past three years, with road safety expenditure down by as much as 20 per cent.
“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.”