COUNCILS have made millions of pounds in profit from parking charges, figures have revealed.
The data from the RAC Foundation showed that for 2015/16, Portsmouth City Council made a surplus of £3.5m, ranking 56th in the country.
Fareham Borough Council saw a profit exceeding £1m as it made £1.2m, the same amount made by East Hampshire District Council.
Gosport Borough Council made £469,000, while Havant Borough Council saw a profit of £680,000. Southampton saw £5.5m in profit, while Chichester made £4.1m and Winchester £3.9m.
Councillor Jim Fleming, Portsmouth council’s cabinet member for traffic and transportation, said: ‘The majority of money generated by charges is used to run the parking service and pay for maintenance and administration.
‘Extra money from on-street parking helps fund transport schemes in the city and money from off-street parking goes into the council’s general fund, keeping council tax down and contributing to vital services.’
Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham council, said: ‘This money isn’t a profit because it gets reinvested back into maintaining the car parks. Drivers want to ensure their cars are secure and want to see people on patrol.
‘If there’s a problem with a machine or barrier, they want someone to be there to fix it and that’s where this money goes.’
Leader of Gosport council Mark Hook said the cost of parking was something the council was always looking at.
‘We try to keep our costs to a minimum. It is always an emotive subject and we recognise that we need to keep charges down so people are encouraged to visit.’
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said while the numbers might seem large, they reflect the growing competition for space in towns and cities.
‘Parking charges are one of the tools councils use to keep traffic moving, while also allowing people reasonable and affordable access to high street shops and other facilities,’ he said.
‘The good news is that any profit generated by councils from on-street parking must by law be spent on transport-related activities.’