MOTORISTS have forked out more than £20m to park in Portsmouth in just six years, The News can reveal.
The city council has collected £21.75m since 2008 from charges it puts in place on parking bays and car parks.
The figures, which were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, comes after the local authority handed out 34,510 penalty charge notices to the value of £1.29m in 2013.
Only eight other councils outside London issued fines worth more.
Despite the £21m collected in Portsmouth, the council spends just £48,000 maintaining its 300 parking meters and it does not pay anything as part of its contract with RingGo – which lets people pay to park using their mobile phone.
But councillor Jason Fazackarley, cabinet member for traffic and transport, said the amount helps to cover all transport running costs – and there was only £1m left in the council’s parking reserve only eight months ago.
And he said the lack of funds was the reason why he put a ‘temporary embargo’ on any more resident parking schemes last year– which don’t make the council any money.
‘All the money that’s made from parking goes back into the parking service,’ he said.
‘It goes towards paying our 40 parking wardens, maintenance of our vehicles which are part of the service, and Portsmouth is a city and a tourist city with lots of people going into it.
‘While the money seems like a lot, running a local authority costs a lot, especially when it is affected by government cutbacks.’
Meanwhile, neighbouring city authorities have collected much more from parking.
Southampton City Council, which like Portsmouth is a unitary authority, collected £33.5m – £10.45m from on-street parking spaces between 2008 and 2013 and £23.1m from car parks.
And Brighton and Hove City Council brought in a staggering £24.2m in just one year from parking charges in 2012-2013 – the highest amount outside of London.
Meanwhile, Salford, in Greater Manchester, which has a similar population size to Portsmouth, collected just £2.74m in the past six years.
By law, councils cannot make profit from parking.
Portsmouth City Council’s information commissioner said parking income helps ‘reduce the need for cuts’ and helps to ‘keep council tax down.’