Parking fines rake in record profit for councils

Local authorities collect £820m during the 2016/17 financial year

Neil Lancefield
Monday 27 November 2017 11:20
Almost £820m generated from council parking for the 2016/17 financial year
Almost £820m generated from council parking for the 2016/17 financial year

The surplus produced from council parking operations in England rose by 10 percent over the past year, according to a new study.

Some £819 million was generated from the on and off-street parking activities of the 353 local authorities in England during the 2016/17 financial year, research found.

The figure was calculated by taking income from parking charges and penalty notices and then deducting running costs.

It represents a 10 percent leap on the 2015/16 surplus of £744 million.

Income was up six percent and costs rose two percent in the past year.

The data - analysed for motoring research charity RAC Foundation by transport consultant David Leibling - comes from analysing the annual returns that councils make to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Most councils make a surplus on their parking activities, and this is to be spent on local transport projects.

Many of the highest totals were seen in London, with Westminster having the largest surplus (£73.2 million) followed by Kensington and Chelsea (£32.2 million) and Camden (£26.8 million).

The biggest amounts outside the capital were reported by Brighton and Hove (£21.2 million), ahead of Milton Keynes and Birmingham (£11.1 million each).

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding urged motorists to read their own local authority's parking report to see the explanation for parking charges and how any surplus is being spent.

He went on: "The upward path in profits is in part a reflection of the record number of cars and volume of traffic.

"The silver lining for drivers is that these surpluses must almost exclusively be ploughed back into transport and as any motorist will tell you there is no shortage of work to be done.

"We welcome the fact that councils are increasingly investing in technology to help make parking easier and less stressful.

"Westminster, for example, has created an app which directs drivers to free parking bays, helping to end the motoring misery of prowling the streets looking for a space."

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association's transport spokesman, claimed councils must "strike a balance" when setting charges in a bid to ensure there are parking spaces available.

He said: "[Parking charges] help not only keep the roads clear but keep pedestrians, motorists and cyclists safe and ensure people can park near their homes and local shops.

"Income raised through on-street parking charges is spent on running parking services and any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as tackling our national £12 billion roads repair backlog and creating new parking spaces."

These are the 20 councils in England with the largest surpluses from parking operations, according to the RAC Foundation:

  1. Westminster (£73.2 million)

  2. Kensington and Chelsea (£32.1 million)

  3. Camden (£26.8 million)

  4. Hammersmith and Fulham (£23.1 million)

  5. Brighton and Hove (£21.2 million)

  6. Wandsworth (£20.5 million)

  7. Islington (£19.1 million)

  8. Haringey (£14.6 million)

  9. Hackney (£14.5 million)

  10. Hounslow (£12.0 million)

  11. Lambeth (£11.9 million)

  12. Milton Keynes (£11.1 million)

  13. Birmingham (£11.1 million)

  14. Brent (£10.5 million)

  15. Merton (£10.2 million)

  16. Cornwall (£9.7 million)

  17. Bristol (£9.5 million)

  18. Tower Hamlets (£9.5 million)

  19. Newham (£8.9 million)

  20. Barnet (£8.6 million)

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