TaxPayers' Alliance exposes the £328 million parking fines council cash cow

November 24, 2009 11:03 PM

Including information on every local authority

  • £328 million received in parking fines in the last year
  • Kensington and Chelsea dish out most parking fines of any UK council, with an average of £85 per person
  • For the first time ever, a full national breakdown of parking fines received has been compiled by the TPA/DA

Many people perceive parking enforcement as a money spinning scheme and the right of councils to retain the proceeds from parking enforcement is a major source of friction between councils and the public. This research note provides, for the first time, the amount collected by all UK councils, to produce a national estimate of the amount raised in parking fines.

Under the Road Traffic Act 1991 local authorities were permitted to assume responsibility for on-street and off-street parking enforcement, a power until then held exclusively by the police. In return local authorities were permitted to keep all proceeds generated.  Any surplus income from parking enforcement is ring fenced for local transportation improvement and – under the Traffic Management Act 2004 – local environment improvements.  However local authorities rated as high performing (4 star) have the freedom to spend the surplus in any way they wish. 

To read the full report, which includes detailed information on every local authority, please click here (PDF). 

Key Findings

  • For the 99 percent of Councils who responded, a total of £328 million for on street parking and off street parking fines was received in the year 2008-09.
  • This is a 16 per cent decrease from total parking fines in 2007-08, which was £379 million.  Although it is not clear why there has been such a large decrease the recession in 2008-09 could have made motorists more cautious about incurring charges such as parking fines.
  • The UK and English council that charged the most in fines relative to their daytime population is Kensington and Chelsea, with an average of £85 per person in 2008-09. The average income per daytime population for English councils was £6.14 in 2008-09.
  • The council that charged the most in fines relative to their daytime population in Scotland is Edinburgh, with an average of £12 per person in 2008-09. The average income per daytime population for Scottish councils was £1.71 in 2008-09. 
  • The council that charged the most in fines relative to their daytime population in Wales is Denbighshire, with an average of £5.62 per person in 2008-09. The average income per daytime population for Welsh council was £1.57 in 2008-09.
  • In Northern Ireland the average amount of fines compared to daytime population was £3.50 per person in 2008-09. Parking fines in Northern Ireland are dealt with by a single authority called the Northern Ireland Road Service.
  • Of the top ten councils with the highest level of ‘fines per daytime population’, six were rated as 4 star councils by the Audit Commission, permitting them to spend a surplus in any way they wished. 

To download the full report, please click here (PDF).

Peter Roberts, Chief Executive at the Drivers’ Alliance, said:

“Parking enforcement has become a massive money making industry and we are seeing unscrupulous and target driven enforcement of parking laws where the penalties far outweigh the offence. This report shows that some local authorities are treating drivers unfairly and cashing in on parking fines.”

Jennifer Dunn, Policy Analyst with the Drivers' Alliance and the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“For many councils parking fines have become a lucrative source of income. But while revenues are being made at the cost of the motorist, taxpayers haven’t seen their council tax fall, or their local services improve. Motorists are being treated like cash cows, but the only people that appear to be benefiting are wardens and their bosses.”

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