Figures released by The Department for Communities and Local Government last week revealed the huge amount councils are raking in from parking. They are set make £635 million in 2013-14, up from £601m last year. Parking is an increasingly becoming a nice little earner for councils.
The RAC Foundation found that Westminster City Council made the largest amount from parking with £41.6 million in 2011-12. Kensington and Chelsea made £28.1 million in the same period and Camden followed closely with a £25 million. Whilst the biggest receipts are for London councils, Brighton and Hove made £14.4 million - more than many London Boroughs and twice as much as Manchester. Even when the money councils spent to the infrastructure is taken into account, English councils still made £412 million for 2011-12.
These figures come less than a fortnight after a landmark ruling against Barnet council mean councils all over the country can no longer use income from parking to pay for anything other than road works and similar road transport costs.
Some councils don’t seem bothered by the fact that many high street retailers are already struggling with crippling, ever-increasing business rates in difficult economic times.
It’s clear that some local authorities see hard-pressed motorists as little more than cash cows to be milked at every opportunity. Motorists in Britain already pay the highest fuel taxes of any country in the EU28 and are hit with punitively high rates of road tax. The Treasury took a combined £32.5 billion in road and fuel tax in 2012-13, but only £7.1 billion was spent on roads.
Thankfully, TPA campaigners in Colchester, Essex, managed to shoot down plans to install parking meters on a busy high street.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said yesterday that “£635 million municipal profit shows why we need to review and rein in unfair town hall parking rules.” He also reminded councils that “The law is clear that parking is not a tax or cash cow for town hall officers.”
Despite this, transport minister Norman Baker said earlier this month that he was considering increasing the cap on parking fines.
When a government minister admits that parking charges are so sky-high that huge penalties for illegal parking are no longer a deterrent, you know there is something wrong. The sooner local authorities rein in these colossal parking profits, the sooner they can claim to be back on the side of local people and businesses.