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Councils receive record £800m parking haul this year

Authorities across England have documented record £819m in profits through parking operations over the past year.

The figure has risen by 10% on 2015-16, when it hit a £740m high, and is 40% higher than the numbers recorded just four years ago in 2012-13.

Research from the RAC Foundation indicated that England’s 353 councils brought in a total of £1.58bn in on- and off-street parking activities, but spent around £760m enforcing and running their operations.

Councils say they are still “on the side of the motorist” but that the money is a necessary part of maintaining the country’s transport links.

“As the RAC Foundation highlights, income raised through on-street parking charges is spent on running parking services and any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as tackling our national £12bn roads repair backlog and creating new parking spaces,” explained Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s transport spokesman.

“Councils are on the side of motorists but have to try and strike a balance when setting parking charges to ensure there are spaces available for everyone at all times of the day and they can keep traffic moving.

“They help not only keep the roads clear but keep pedestrians, motorists and cyclists safe and ensure people can park near their homes and local shops.”

London’s Westminster City Council was by far the most profitable beneficiary of parking operations, making £73m – far ahead of Kensington & Chelsea’s £32m and Camden’s £26m.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, commented: “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.”

Although most councils in the country made a profit from their parking schemes, there were 46 (13%) which reported a loss this year.

Most notably, North Yorkshire County Council made a loss of £1.6m on its parking operations, despite creating profit just two years ago.

Numbers are likely to rise again soon, with city councils looking to parking charges to reduce emissions and improve the environment for residents.

Just last month, the City of Edinburgh Council proposed a special parking charge specifically for diesel vehicles as part of plans to reduce the prevalence of certain aerobic health conditions such as asthma and lung cancer.

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