REVEALED: Portsmouth council raked in more than £5m from parking charges last year
PORTSMOUTH council raked in a surplus of more than £5m from parking in the city last year, making it one of the most lucrative authorities in the country.
Outside London, Portsmouth City Council was the 16th highest authority for extra cash earned from parking charges, fines and permits from 2017 to 2018, totalling £5.3m.
This was an increase on the previous year when £5.1m was brought it, a report by the RAC Foundation revealed.
Most of the money was generated from parking charges and fines which the council admitted exceeded the cost of maintaining car parks and enforcing restrictions.
Only £71,000 came from residents' parking permits, which start at £30 for one car.
For the council's deputy leader, Councillor Steve Pitt, the figures were to be expected. He said: 'The majority of our parking income will come from public car parks. Portsmouth is a popular tourist destination and we have a very busy time during the summer with events.
'Car parks are well used therefore you would expect that level of surplus, so it's not really a surprise.'
He confirmed that a review of parking would be heard at a future council meeting with consideration given to how the funds are spent.
'Any surplus goes into improvements in the area,' Cllr Pitt added.
'We are looking at all sorts of options based on feedback from the public about how we operate and implement parking zones.
'This is actually due to go to a traffic and transportation meeting in a couple of months. We will always listen to what people are saying. Some quite popular options like blurring zone boundaries, so people with a permit for one zone can also park in a neighbouring zone, and shared permits are all part of what's going for review.'
Any cash raised from parking can only be spent on further off-street parking, public transport, road improvement projects or for local environmental improvements.
But Tory boss Cllr Donna Jones believed motorists were being unfairly penalised.
'Whilst I recognise there is a serious issue in Portsmouth with traffic congestion and parking it seems like the motorist is being unduly picked on,' she said.
'I think the council needs to be looking at ways to improve congestion and parking rather than hitting people in their pockets. At the moment the Lib Dems seem to have no solution and I think they're failing both the motorists and those who need alternative transport.
'The money should be spent on substantial improvements to cycle ways in the city. It should also be used for environmental improvements like planting more trees and improving open spaces.'
Across England income from parking exceeded £1.6bn last year, a five per cent increase from 2016/17.
Brighton and Hove council made £23.4m, which was the highest surplus outside of a London authority.
Southampton City Council ranked 12th with £6.8m.
In the Portsmouth area Gosport made £558,000, Fareham made £799,000, Havant made £1,015,000 and Hampshire made £95,000.