Councils in England made over £411 million in parking charges last year, an increase of 14.9 percent, said the Institute of Advanced Motorists. Income from parking was £1.37bn, while's the costs to councils were £960m. However, the increase in the surplus is happening at the same time as spending on road safety measures are being cut to the bone.
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.”
It's true that spending on roads is being cut back - a Department for Communities and Local Government report from June 2012 estimates that capital expenditure on highways and transport will fall by a further 11 percent over 2012/2013 - but the surplus councils make from car parking charges on and and off the public highway does not have to be spent on highway projects. Hypothecation is heresy in both national and local government.
"We recognise and understand that councils are facing tough decisions but we don’t support their decision to cut road safety budgets so hard," said IAM PR officer Tanvir Nandra, who denied the motoring organisation is opposed to charging for car parking.
"We haven’t got an issue with car parking charges but we’re raising the issue that there are significant rises in parking charges at the same time as there are significant reductions being made to road safety education which include school-crossing patrol and cycling courses."
Cash-strapped councils will likely seek to raise car parking prices in the future. Kensington and Chelsea has seen its profits on car parking charges increase by 31 percent to £27.5m. Newcastle City Council has boosted its profits on car parking to £6.2m, a rise of 51 percent.
On-street parking for bicycles is free.
Image from Flickr.