Parking fines in England top half a billion pounds


Free parking? Photo credit: Alan Cleaver

While the cost of buying a new car may be falling, the cost of driving continues to rise. Cheap car leasing and contract hire deals have seen the UK’s new car market boom in 2013 but the associated costs of motoring continue to affect many millions of drivers.

One major cost for drivers across the UK is parking fines. Councils in England generated over half a billion pounds in parking fines in the last financial year according to new data from the RAC Foundation and a consultation has been launched to explore whether this ‘profit’ is legal. Keep reading to find out more.

Councils make a record amount from parking fines

According to the RAC Foundation, local authorities in England made a ‘profit’ of £594 million from parking activities in 2012-13. Seven of the 10 greatest surpluses were in London – including all the top four. The largest was £39.7 million in Westminster.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the foundation, said: “It is a case of deja vu. Once again English councils have made record amounts from parking. Yet overall spending on local roads has fallen by 9 per cent over the past three years with road safety expenditure down by as much as 20 per cent.

“The government’s recent decision to consult on changes to parking rules and regulations is timely and we have always argued that at the very least all councils should publish an annual parking report to explain how much money is collected from drivers and, just as importantly, where that cash is going.”

While you may be benefiting from a cheap car leasing deal on your new car, councils are stretching their powers to the limit, according to the government. A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “Parking fines have become an unjust form of arbitrary taxation, corrupting Britain’s justice system and fleecing innocent drivers.

“This government is taking action to rein in the town hall parking bullies.”

The 10 councils which made the largest surpluses on parking fines in 2012-13 are:

  1. Westminster £39.7m
  2. Kensington and Chelsea £30.44m
  3. Camden £23.53m
  4. Hammersmith and Fulham £19.39m
  5. Brighton and Hove £16.25m
  6. Wandsworth £15.89m
  7. Lambeth £12m
  8. Nottingham £11.79m
  9. Manchester £8.78m
  10. Islington £8.21m

Parking fines are ‘a tax on business’

It is not just the government that is calling for changes to the way councils profit from parking fines. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says that the half a billion pound profit for councils in England generated by parking fines last year, is a ‘tax on business too.’

FTA’s Head of Urban Logistics Christopher Snelling said: “This isn’t just about parking – it also comes from loading and unloading.  Many of our members are incorrectly fined as authorities are too eager to judge that they are parked when in fact they are in the legitimate process of delivering to local businesses.

“Many fines are also issued incorrectly when we had every right to be delivering in that location. These fines amount to a stealth tax on local businesses in these areas.”

  • What’s your view on parking fines? Do you think your local council is cashing in or treating drivers fairly?
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