Councils cash in on parking

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Councillor Roger Price

Concern as Fareham council tax rise soars – again

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Councils across Hampshire are making large profits from parking charges and fines.

Figures released by the RAC Foundation, an independent industry body, shows that parking is swelling the local authorities’ coffers.

The foundation has ranked local authority areas on how much revenue they received from motorists, as set out in their annual returns to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Only one authority in Hampshire troubled the top 50 of the table, and that was Winchester, in 46th position.

Winchester City Council took £3.08m in the financial year 2011/12, compared to £2.83m in 2010/11.

Just five places below Winchester is Southampton, raking in £2.83m, compared to £2.68 the year before to put it in 51st place.

The next highest authority, locally, was across the border into West Sussex, with Chichester coming in 55th position.

It made £2,546,000 in the last financial year, only slightly down from the £2,548,000 the year before.

Portsmouth City Council was the next highest, banking £1.98m in 2011/12, compared to £1.7m the year before, taking it to 77th position.

Fareham Borough Council ranked in 108th place, taking £1,43m in parking fines in 2011/12, compared to £1.47m the previous year.

East Hampshire District Council, which covers Petersfield, took £760,000 in fines last year, down from £769,000 the year before, to see it in 159th position in the foundation’s table.

A massive jump down the table finds Gosport Borough Council in 230th place, taking £359,000 in fines last year, compared to £247,000 the year before.

Six places lower is Havant Borough Council, taking £325,000 in 2011/12 compared to £299,000 the year before to put it in 236th place.

Finally, Hampshire County Council made only £74,000 last year, compared to £73,000 the year before, to see it in 284th position. County Councils rarely issue fines for parking, as those powers are more normally devolved down to city, borough or district councils.

The RAC Foundation’s figures came a day after the Department for Communities and Local Government published English local authority revenue and expenditure plans for 2013/14.

These figures showed that English councils expect that net income on parking services (off-street and on-street parking) was expected to increase from £601 million in 2012/13 to £635 million in 2013/14.

Local government secretary Eric Pickles said: ‘This £635 million municipal parking profit shows why we need to review and rein in unfair town hall parking rules.

‘This government has scrapped the last administration’s Whitehall rules which told councils to hike up parking charges and adopt aggressive parking enforcement.

‘But councils aren’t listening, and local shops and hard-working families are suffering as a result. The law is clear that parking is not a tax or cash cow for town hall officers.’

Westminster topped the table, raking in £41.6m in parking fines last year. The rest of the top five areas were Kensington and Chelsea, Camden, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Wandsworth. Brighton and Hove was in 6th place, with £14.4m in parking fines banked last year, up 23 per cent from the year before.