English councils made a record £819m from their parking operations in the last financial year, a new RAC report finds. The 2016-17 figure is 10% higher than the £744m made in the previous financial year and is £37m above what councils forecast for last year.
The RAC Foundation report found most councils made a profit on their parking operations.
The largest surpluses were seen in London with the 33 London boroughs making £379m between them – 46% of the English total.
Westminster had the largest surplus in England at £73.2m, up 31% on the previous year. Kensington & 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 & Hove (£21.2m), and Milton Keynes and Birmingham (£11.1m each).
Around 13% of councils reported making a loss.
‘The upward path in profits is in part a reflection of the record number of cars and volume of traffic,’ said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation.
‘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.’
‘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,’ he added.
Responding to the RAC Foundation’s report on parking, Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Transport spokesman said:
“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 £12 billion roads repair backlog and creating new parking spaces.
“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 keeps pedestrians, motorists and cyclists safe and ensures people can park near their homes and local shops.”
Brighton and Hove City Council made £21.2 million twice as much as the next two most profitably run council parking schemes, Birmingham and Milton Keynes, who both made £11.1 million.
When London Council’s are included, Brighton and Hove is the country’s fifth most profitable parking operation, with Westminster first, making £73.2 million.
The RAC Foundation said: “English councils made a record £819 million from their parking operations in the last financial year.
“The figure for 2016-17 is 10 per cent higher than the £744 million made in the previous financial year.
“It is 40 per cent higher than the £587 million made in 2012-13.
“And it is also £37 million above what councils themselves had forecast for 2016-17.
“The findings come from analysis for the RAC Foundation by transport consultant David Leibling of 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-street and off-street parking activities of £1.582 billion – up 6 per cent year-on-year.
“This comprised both parking charges (fees and permits) and penalty income.
“At the same time, the councils spent £763 million on running their parking operations – up 2 per cent year on year.
“The difference between income and expenditure – £819 million – is the surplus or ‘profit’ available to be spent on transport locally.”
Brighton and Hove City Council said in its annual report on parking that most of the profit went on funding concessionaire bus fares for older people.
Some of the money raised through parking schemes paid for supported or subsidised bus routes which were regarded as socially desirable but not commercially viable.
Whist lots of money from the scheme went back into transport schemes such as the remodelling of the Seven Dials roundabout, the new layout for Lewes Road and Edward Street and the Valley Gardens scheme which is still under discussion.
The council has said that it aims to use the charges to reduce congestion, help manage traffic and ensure a reasonable turnover in vehicles parked so that local businesses can thrive.