Parking charges raise £693m surplus for councils, report finds

7 Dec 15

Councils in England made a surplus of £693m from parking charges and fines in 2014/15, an analysis by the RAC Foundation has found.

The group’s annual analysis of the excess, calculated by adding up income from parking charges and penalty notices then deducting running costs, found it has increased by 4% compared to 2013/14, when it stood at £667m.

However, the Local Government Association said it was inaccurate to portray these funds as profits, as any surplus can only be spent on transport projects.

According to the RAC Foundation, £308m of the surplus was reported by councils in London, with boroughs in the capital making up the top five places in the list. Westminster City Council raised the most (£46.4m), followed by Kensington and Chelsea (£33m), Camden (£24.5m), Hammersmith & Fulham (£23.8m) and Wandsworth (£20.4m). Brighton & Hove City Council was the authority outside London that raised the most funds, at £18.6m, while Nottingham City Council was the only other council outside London in the top ten, at £13.3m.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said that the financial sums involved in local authority parking are huge.

“The legal position is that parking charges are to be used as a tool for managing traffic. But with local government budgets under ever-greater pressure, the temptation to see them as a fund-raiser must be intense,” he said.

“When a parking profit is made the law states that, essentially, the money can only be spent on transport and environment projects. We are simply asking that all councils publish annual reports to tell drivers exactly where this huge excess ends up.”

An LGA spokesman said income is spent on running parking services and any surplus is only spent on tackling the £12bn roads repair backlog or creating new parking spaces.

“Councils are on the side of hard-pressed motorists,” he stated. “The average motorist is paying 30 times more to Whitehall in charges and taxation each year than they do to their town hall through parking.”

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