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Councils’ annual surplus from parking rises by £165 million

A parking restriction notice on South Carriage Drive in Hyde Park, London (Jonathan Brady/PA)
A parking restriction notice on South Carriage Drive in Hyde Park, London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The annual surplus produced from council parking operations has risen by £165 million over the past five years despite cuts in road improvements, according to a new study.

Some £847 million was generated from the parking activities of Britain’s local authorities during the 2017/18 financial year, research found.

This is up from £682 million in 2013/14, the analysis of council data by price comparison site Confused.com indicated.

The investigation also suggested that the money spent by local authorities on repairing roads fell from £2.8 billion to £2.4 billion over the same period.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

According to the study, local authorities in 101 out of 176 counties or areas have increased their net income from parking and 87 have reduced road spending.

A survey of 2,000 motorists found that 54% want to see money from parking fines used to fund improvements in road conditions, and 43% do not know where the money is actually being spent.

Surplus on parking activities must be spent on local transport projects.

Confused.com motoring editor Amanda Stretton said: “While councils are often justified in charging for parking and issuing fines for illegal parking, many motorists are confused about why this money isn’t being re-invested into our roads.

“Poor road conditions is a major concern for drivers, with roads riddled with potholes and unclear markings, it’s no wonder drivers want councils to be putting more into making these better.”

Martin Tett, transport spokesman at the Local Government Association, representing 370 councils in England and Wales, said: “Any income raised through on-street parking charges and parking fines is spent on running parking services and any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as tackling our national £9 billion roads repair backlog and other local transport projects that benefit high streets and local economies.

“This report completely ignores central Government funding reductions.

“Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost 57p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services, which is a much more significant source of funding for roads than surplus parking income.

“Surplus parking income is not the only source of money for roads and not all transport spend is spent on roads but can still be helpful to motorists, such as supporting concessionary bus fares to help reduce congestion.

“Councils are on the side of motorists and shoppers when setting parking policies which aim to make sure that there are spaces available for residents, high streets are kept vibrant and traffic is kept moving.”