Councils in England made a £700 million surplus from their parking activities in 2014/15 but South Oxfordshire District Council’s profits have dropped by over a quarter.
The record total ‘profit’ of £693 million across English councils comes from their day-to-day, on and off street parking operations, and is a 4% increase on the 2013/14 amount of £667 million.
SODC, which governs Thame and surrounding areas, had a surplus of £524,000 in 2013/14 but that dropped 25% to £390,000 in 2014/15 leaving the authority just above midtable in 219th position from 353 councils in the Local Authority Parking Operations Revenue Outturn for England rankings.
Meanwhile, Oxfordshire County Council made a profit of £2,059,000 from car parking, up 8% from £1,900,000 last year making it the 86th most profitable of all 353 authorities in England.
The figures are calculated by taking income from parking charges and penalty notices, then deducting running costs, and this year’s profits have come from increased income, rather than reduced costs,
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The financial sums involved in local authority parking are huge and the overall profits eye-watering. And once again the year-on-year direction of travel is upwards.
“It is unsurprising that London leads the way in making money. Its roads are most congested and the pressure on road space immense.
“The legal position is that parking charges are to be used as a tool for managing traffic. But with local government budgets under ever-greater pressure the temptation to see them as a fund-raiser must be intense.
“When a parking profit is made the law states that, essentially, the money can only be spent on transport and environment projects. We are simply asking that all councils publish annual reports to tell drivers exactly where this huge excess ends up.
“The precarious financial state of many councils is a genuine concern, not least when it comes to the risk of a cut in road maintenance spending which will hit every one of us. A funding solution requires national and local government to look beyond the High Street parking meter.”
London’s share of the surplus is £308 million (44%), with the only non-capital areas in the top 10 being Brighton & Hove and Nottingham
Relatively few councils few lost money on their parking activities. Just 57 (16%) of the 353 local authorities in England reported negative figures.
For more information or to see the figures in full visit the RAC Foundation website.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Have your say below.