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Council parking charge profits rocket

09/01/13

COUNCILS are making huge profits from parking charges while cutting road safety spending, according to new figures.

Councils in England took more than £411 million in parking charges in 2011/12 - an increase of almost 15% on 2010/11, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said.

Yet at the same time, the amount spent by councils on road safety, education and safe routes to schools, decreased by 18% to £105 million, the IAM said.

It added that overall revenue spending on highways and transport reduced by 6% between 2010/11 and 2011/12, while capital expenditure (on construction, tarmac etc) reduced by an estimated 13%.

The IAM said the top council "earners" from parking in 2011/12, all in London, were: :: Westminster - up 8.7% from 2010/11 to £38 million; :: Kensington and Chelsea - up 31% to £27.5 million; :: Camden - up 18% to £25 million.

Outside London the biggest earners were: :: Brighton and Hove - up 18.9% to £13.7 million; :: Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire - up 9.3% to £6.5 million; :: Newcastle upon Tyne - up 51% to £6.2 million.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "Councils are making record-breaking profits from parking, while cutting road safety spending on life-saving services such as education for young drivers, cycle training, and safe-routes-to-schools schemes.

"At the same time cuts to road maintenance will mean a backlog of repairs which will simply cost more to fix in the long term."

Peter Box, a councillor and chairman of the Local Government Association's economy and transport board, said: "Regulating parking is essential to keep traffic flowing, pedestrians and motorists safe, roads clear for emergency services and business deliveries, deterring drivers from blocking roads and pavements, and ensuring people can park near their homes or local shops.

"With the number of cars on our roads increasing, it's more crucial than ever that parking is properly managed.”

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: "The coalition Government has scrapped the last government's rules which forced up parking charges and demanded aggressive planning enforcement. Councils should now be supporting their local high streets and wider economy.

"Under our local government finance reforms, councils will now benefit from calling off the war on the motorist, encouraging shoppers and growing their town centres.

"However, the analysis by the Institute is wrong. Income from on-street and off-street parking only rose by 3.7% in the last year, which is lower than the prevailing rate of inflation. The Institute have failed to adjust for the fact that councils have cut costs through efficiency savings."

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