Councils rake in millions from parking fines as RAC attacks authorities' 'nice little earner'

Parking charges are providing huge cash surpluses for some councils with the 359 town halls across England having a total current account surplus of £565m

Town halls have boosted their annual profits from parking fines and charges to more than £560 million, up by 10 per cent in a year, according to figures compiled by the RAC Foundation.

Parking charges are providing huge cash surpluses for some councils with the 359 town halls across England having a total current account surplus of £565m from parking schemes in 2011-12.

This is a £54 million increase on the £511 million surplus in 2010/11, said the foundation.

Of the ten biggest surpluses eight were in London councils with Westminster heading the top of the list with a £41.6m profit before spending on road infrastructure was taken into account.

Second, with a surplus of £28.1m was Kensington and Chelsea with Camden in third place with £25m. Only Brighton and Hove and Cornwall councils broke into a top 10 dominated by London authorities.

The figures also showed that just 52 (14%) of the 359 councils reported a deficit on their parking operations in 2011/12.

The news of the huge surpluses follows an announcement last week by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles in which he suggested that shoppers could be given a 'grace period' of free parking on double yellow lines for 15 minutes.

Councils have, however, warned that this would be impractical.

The surplus figures come just days after a judge declared that Barnet Council in north London had acted illegally in setting parking charges to raise revenue.

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "For many local authorities, parking charges are a nice little earner, especially in London.

"Not all authorities make big sums. Several run a current account deficit and indeed of those with surpluses many will see the money vanish when capital expenditure is taken into account.

"But the bottom line is that hundreds of millions of pounds are being contributed annually to council coffers through parking charges ."

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said the figures showed why "we need to review and rein in unfair town hall parking rules" and warned that parking profits are on track to reach £635million in 2013-14.

Mr Pickles said: "This Government has scrapped the last administration's Whitehall rules which told councils to hike up parking charges and adopt aggressive parking enforcement. But councils aren't listening, and local shops and hard-working families are suffering as a result.

The law is clear that parking is not a tax or cash cow for town hall officers."

However, Councillor Daniel Astaire, Westminster City Council cabinet member for business, defended the money made from parking charges saying: "The system is already changing and councils are already looking to work with motorists to issue fewer fines and crucially increase the amount of people parking correctly.

"Parking is about traffic management, tackling congestion and trying to implement positive benefits for businesses and high streets.

"If we stay in this Jurassic Age of pure rhetoric about cash cows and money making, innovation will be stifled and we cannot engage with motorists properly in order to find the best solutions that will benefit everyone."

These were the councils with the largest surpluses (before capital charges) in 2011/12

1. Westminster £41.6 million

2. Kensington & Chelsea £28.1 million

3. Camden (north London) £25.0 million

4. Hammersmith and Fulham (west London) £19.5 million

5. Wandsworth (south west London) £16.1 million

6. Brighton and Hove £14.4 million

7. Islington (north London) £10.9 million

8. Cornwall £7.9 million

9. Newham (east London) £7.3 million

10. Hounslow (west London) £7.3 million

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English Teacher - Saffron ...

Primary Supply Teacher - Northants

£90 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Primary School Supply Teache...

Maths Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Maths Teacher - Saffro...

Chemistry Teacher - Top School in Malaysia - January Start

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain