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Councils make £667m profits from parking, says RAC

Date: 06 January 2015   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

Councils in England have made a record £667 million 'profit' from their parking operations, according to the RAC Foundation.

In 2013/14 councils generated a combined £667m surplus from day-to-day and off-street parking operations, which the RAC said is a 12% increase on the 2012/13 figure of £594m, and a 19% increase on the £460m generated in 2012/13.

Just under half (44%/£296m) of the overall total came from councils in London with eight out of the top 10 being local authorities in the capital led by Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea. Brighton and Hove and Nottingham councils were the other councils only ones outside London that make up the top 10, with Nottingham's position in part due to the inclusion of its controversial workplace parking levy.  

The RAC said very few councils lost money on its parking activities, with 55 (16%) of the 353 authorities reporting negative numbers. The motoring body calculated the figures by adding up income from parking charges and penalty notices and deducting running costs.

The RAC claimed parking profits are a "one-way street" for councils, having risen annually for the last five years, while the spending on local roads has decreased by a fifth in the same period.

"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," said professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation. "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."