Coining it in from Leeds council car parks

LEEDS CITY Council raked in £6.8m in ‘profit’ from parking charges in 2013/14 - ten per cent more than the previous year.

The city has once again topped the Yorkshire rankings for the amount of income and surplus ‘profit’ it makes through parking changes, according to an RAC Foundation survey.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has accused Town Halls of “committing daylight robbery” by ripping off drivers with exorbitant parking charges, as it was revealed that in 2013/14, English councils made a combined ‘profit’ of £667 million from their parking operations - 12 per cent more than in 2012/13.

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Outside of London, Leeds reaped the eighth highest amount of income from on and off street parking in 2013/14, £12.6m.

And yet while the figure was the same as the previous year, when the RAC examined the surplus made by the council - the amount of income minus the cost of operating - Leeds made ten per cent more than in 2012/13, £6.89m.

Last year Leeds Council introduced parking charges on Sundays and in the evenings - a decision 70 per cent of Yorkshire Evening Post readers surveyed earlier thought was wrong.

A Leeds Council spokesman said: “With the success of developments like Trinity Leeds and the First Direct Arena, and upcoming developments such as Victoria Gate, demand for parking is on the increase.

“In order to make the most of what the city has to offer, we must find a delicate balance between managing the increasing demand for parking and the need to keep traffic and the economy moving while encouraging people to make the most of public transport.

“Parking charges mean we can create a turnover in all pay and display spaces and also help the economy with better management of parking.

“The significant reduction in the cost of parking at Woodhouse car park last year has also contributed to a rise in income from off street parking and council car parks continue to offer the best value parking in the city compared to private sector providers.”

Any income generated from parking charges is ring-fenced and used to help pay transport infrastructure improvements, he added.

The five biggest ‘earners’ in the survey were all London authorities. Leeds was ranked 23rd.

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said that across the country, an increase in parking profits had come not from extra income in penalties, but savings in how parking operations are run.

He said: “This suggests local authorities are making efficiency savings and should bring some good news to both drivers and council tax payers.”