Parking fees give English councils £667m profit, but spending on roads down

Profits from off-street parking operations made by English councils increased by 12% to £667 million, compared to £594 million last year, says the RAC Foundation. However, much to the annoyance of motorists, councils have spent 20% less on roads.

Forty-four percent of the overall total was generated by London councils.

In what motorists see as a ‘rip-off’, the more they have to pay out, the less they get back.

Only 16% (55) of the 353 parking authorities in England reported falling profits from their off-street parking operations.

The RAC Foundation says it made the calculation by totaling parking charges and penalty notices, and then deducting all running costs.

The increased profits are the result of rising incomes in many councils, plus lower operating costs. Operating costs across the country dropped by 10%.

Parking Fee Surplus

Source: RAC Foundation

The combined surplus for 2013-13, after allowing for interest and depreciation (capital charges) was £549 million, which was 19% higher than the £460 million profit in the previous year.

Westminster was the council with the largest profit – £51 million. In fact, the five largest earners were all in London. Among the top ten, only Nottingham and Brighton and Hove were non-London authorities.

Director of the RAC Foundation, Professor Stephen Glaister, said:

“Parking profits seem to be a one way street for councils having risen annually for the last five years. Yet over the same period spending on local roads has fallen about a fifth in real terms. We understand the pressures councils are under with their overall income still falling and the level of services they have to provide in such areas as social care rising rapidly.”

“One sign that the escalation in parking profits might be coming to an end is that much of this year’s increase comes not from growing income from penalties and charges but cuts in the cost of parking operations. This suggests local authorities are making efficiency savings and should bring some good news to both drivers and council tax payers.”

“The bottom line is that parking policy and charges must be about managing traffic not raising revenue.”

“Daylight robbery”

Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary, accused councils of “daily robbery” by shaking down motorists with “exorbitant parking charges and unfair parking fines.” He believes the recent increase in fines income is due to the industrial use of CCTV spy cars.

Mr. Pickles said:

“This is why we have introduced a law before Parliament to stop these snoopers, as part of package of measures to rein in the town hall parking bullies and protect local shops.”