English councils make money from parking charges

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According to a study from the RAC Foundation, English councils have seen an increase of 10 percent in the revenue they gain from car parking charges bringing the total to approximately £819 million.

This represents a 10% increase from last year and 40% increase from the income between 2012-13 when £594 profit was generated from day to day parking activities.

English councils have even beaten their own forecasts by £37 million. However, some 46 (13%) councils have actually lost money on their parking operations.

Top 10 councils in England with the largest parking surplus:

  1. Westminster £73.2m
  2. Kensington and Chelsea £32.1m
  3. Camden £26.8 m
  4. Hammersmith and Fulham £23.1m
  5. Brighton and Hove £21.2m
  6. Wandsworth £20.5m
  7. Islington £19.1 m
  8. Haringey £14.6m
  9. Hackney £14.5m
  10. Hounslow £12.0m

Source: the RAC Foundation – Derived from Councils’ official annual returns to the Department for Communities and Local Government. 

Total income for 2016-17 was £1.582 billion up 6% on the previous year and derived from parking permits, charges and fines. The cost of running operation at these English councils was £763 million up 2% on the previous year.

This left councils with £819 profit or surplus available to spend on local transport. That’s equivalent to £2.3 million per council, although some councils will have more or less than this figure depending on how much they individually made.

The largest surpluses were seen in London with Westminster topping the table on a surplus of £73 million, an increase of 31% on the previous year. The biggest increases outside of London were Brighton and Hove with £21 million and Birmingham and Milton Keynes with £11 million each.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“The upward path in profits is in part a reflection of the record number of cars and volume of traffic.

“The silver lining for drivers is that these surpluses must almost exclusively be ploughed back into transport and as any motorist will tell you there is no shortage of work to be done.

“We welcome the fact that councils are increasingly investing in technology to help make parking easier and less stressful. Westminster, for example, has created an app which directs drivers to free parking bays, helping to end the motoring misery of prowling the streets looking for a space.

“We urge motorists to take the time to read their own local authority’s parking report so they can see both the rationale for charges in their area and how the surplus is being spent.”