Councils’ parking ‘profit’ reaches record £819m

English councils made a record £819m from their parking operations in the last financial year, according to new analysis from the RAC Foundation.

The figure for 2016-17 is 10% higher than the £744m made in the previous financial year and 40% higher than the £587m made in 2012-13, the RAC Foundation highlighted, adding that it is also £37m above what councils themselves had forecast for 2016-17.

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.’

He also urged motorists to read their local authority’s parking report to see how any local surplus is being spent.

Transport consultant David Leibling, on behalf of the RAC Foundation, analysed the official returns that councils make annually to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

In 2016-17, the 353 local authorities in England had a total income from on and off-street parking activities of £1.582bn – up 6% year-on-year – this includes both parking charges (fees and permits) and penalty income. At the same time, the councils spent £763m on running their parking operations – up 2% year-on-year.

The £819m surplus must be spent on local transport, which has suffered drastic cuts in revenue over the last seven years.

As usual the largest surpluses were seen in London, with the 33 London boroughs making £379m between them – 46% of the English total. However, this does not tell the whole story, with 13% of authorities reporting negative numbers.

Once again:

Westminster had the largest surplus in England at £73.2m, up 31% on the previous year
Kensington and Chelsea came second with £32.2m (down 6%) and Camden with £26.8m (up 6%)
The biggest profits outside of London were reported by Brighton and Hove (£21.2m), and Milton Keynes and Birmingham (£11.1m each).

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