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Parking costs are postcode lottery claims watchdog

The cost of parking in the UK is a postcode lottery - as is the chance of getting a ticket, according to a consumer watchdog.

Drivers in London predictably face the highest charges, but Manchester, Edinburgh and Leeds are also expensive, Which? found.

The cost of parking on the street varied from £4.40 an hour in London's West End and £2.60 in Leeds and Birmingham, to free in Coventry.

But the variation is even more pronounced when it comes to council-run car parks, the study found.

Car parks in London's Soho cost £18 for four hours, followed by Manchester at £13.20 for the same period.

The cheapest city surveyed was Bradford, which charged £3.50 for 4 hours.

Edinburgh was the only city in the study not to offer any council-run car parks. Prices in its privately-run car parks were high at up to £2.50 for an hour or £8.90 for four hours.

And it was a "similarly muddled picture" when it came to parking tickets, Which? said.

More than eight million parking tickets are issued every year in the UK, with nearly half of those from local authorities in London.

London's Westminster handed out more tickets than any other council in the survey but more than 19,000 people (87%) won their appeal against the fine in 2008-2009, suggesting a large number of tickets were not issued correctly, the study found.

Westminster City Council disputed the figures.

Cllr Lee Rowley, the council's cabinet member for parking, said: "Not only are these figures old and out of date but they do not represent a fair reflection of the facts.

"In Westminster we face unique pressures with over one million daily visitors and hundreds of thousands of vehicles using our roads every day.

"Despite these challenges, the latest figures show that in Westminster the amount of parking ticket appeals received has fallen below the London average, with a 61% reduction in the number of appeals received year on year from 21,892 to 8,367.

"We have also made a number of important changes over the last five years to make it easier to park in Westminster, which has resulted in the number of tickets issued each year falling from almost 820,000 to 500,000."

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: "Parking charges vary enormously up and down the country and people want to be clear about where they can park and how much it will cost them.

"But if there's one thing drivers hate more than paying high prices for parking, it's finding a parking ticket on their windscreen. If you think you've been unfairly ticketed, make sure you appeal."

Which? advised drivers to check information about on-street and car park charges on councils' websites before a journey, adding that it was usually cheaper to park in a council car park than a private one.

Parking prices across councils for one hour on a street, one hour in a car park and four hours in a car park are:

London (Westminster) £4.40 £5.50 £18

Manchester £2.20 £3.30 £13.20

Edinburgh £2 £2.50 £8.90

Leeds £2.60 £2 £7.80

Nottingham £1.40 £3.10 £6

Liverpool £2 £1.70 £6.80

Glasgow £2.40 £1 £6

Sheffield £1.60 £1.50 £6

Stoke £2.20 £1.30 £5.20

Bristol £2 £1.60 £5.20

Cardiff £1.50 £3 £4

Coventry £0 £3 £5

Birmingham £2.60 £1 £4.30

Southampton £2 £1.40 £4.20

Plymouth £1 £1.20 £4.80

Leicester £1.70 £1.40 £4.10

Hull £1.30 £1 £4.10

Wolverhampton £1.50 80p £4

Belfast £1 £1 £4

Bradford 70p 80p £3.50