Revealed: ‘Eye-watering’ council profits from car parking in Yorkshire

Local councils have amassed record profits from parking activities in the past year, according to figures obtained by the RAC.  Pic: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Local councils have amassed record profits from parking activities in the past year, according to figures obtained by the RAC. Pic: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
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LOCAL COUNCILS have accumulated record profits from parking fees and fines, with motorists in Yorkshire footing a £33.2million pounds bill in the last year.

A new report published today by motoring firm RAC shows that charges and penalties paid in the region amount to almost five per cent of the total £693m profits generated by local authorities nationally - the biggest ever total and a four per cent rise on 2013/14.

Bulging profits come as local councils remain under intense pressure to balance their accounts in the face of substantial grant funding cuts from Whitehall.

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Describing as “eye-watering” the overall profits generated by local authority parking, Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “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 fundraiser must be intense.

“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.”

The RAC’s analysis is based on figures returned to the Department for Communities and Local Government by local councils. The figures were calculated by taking income from parking charges and penalty notices, then deducting running costs.

Parking profits from local councils in London contributed the most (44 per cent) to the national surplus and in Yorkshire, Leeds City Council recorded the biggest profit, some £7.2m, compared to £6.8m the year before.

Profits were next highest in the region in York (£5.5m), Scarborough (£3.5m), Sheffield (£2.5m) and Harrogate (£2.1m), with none of the area’s local authorities among the 57 councils that reported negative numbers.

The overall profit rise is accounted for by increased parking income and not reduced running costs, the RAC said.

A spokesman for Leeds Council - ranked 21st highest nationally for parking profits - said managing demand for parking, keeping traffic and the economy moving, and encouraging people to make the most of public transport was a “delicate balance”.

“Any surplus income which is generated from parking charges by the council is used to help pay for improvements to the transport infrastructure,” the spokesman added.

Mr Gooding praised Leeds Council for its annual report on how its surplus is spent, adding: “The bottom line is that restrictions and charges should always be about managing traffic and never about revenue raising.”

York Council’s head of transport, Tony Clarke, said its revenue was bound to be high as seven million people visit the city annually, and that significant variances occur year to year due to the weather and major events, such as the Tour de France or St Nicholas Christmas Fair.