London councils head list of parking charge surpluses


Motorists give their views on parking charges in Westminster and elsewhere

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Parking charges are providing huge cash surpluses for some English councils, according to the RAC Foundation.

The 359 councils across England had a total current account surplus of £565m from on and off-street parking schemes in 2011-12, according to the figures.

Eight of the biggest 10 surpluses came from London councils with Westminster leading the way with a £41.6m profit.

Westminster City Council disputed many of the figures but said it would work with motorists to reduce fines.

The other two councils outside London making the top 10 were Brighton and Hove in sixth with £14.4m and Cornwall in eighth with £7.9m.

The total profit represented a £54m increase on the surplus from 2010-11 and only 52 of the councils reported a deficit on their 2011-12 parking operations.

The RAC Foundation figures, produced for them by transport consultant David Leibling, are from the annual returns councils are required to provide to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

They are based on three factors - on-street parking charges, off-street parking charges and parking penalties.

Running costs of parking operations are deducted from this total to produce the surplus or deficit figure.

Top 10 parking surpluses

  • Westminster £41.6m
  • Kensington and Chelsea £28.1m
  • Camden £25m
  • Hammersmith and Fulham £19.5m
  • Wandsworth £16.1m
  • Brighton and Hove £14.4m
  • Islington £10.9m
  • Cornwall £7.9m
  • Newham £7.3m
  • Hounslow £7.3m

Source: RAC Foundation. Figures for 2011-12

Tackling congestion

Transport minister Norman Baker said: "The law is quite clear. Councils should not be pricing their parking in order to make a profit.

"Any monies raised from parking in excess of the cost of administration has to go back to transport purposes which can be dealing with potholes, improved road management or can be investing in public transport to encourage people to free up the roads.

Subtracting the money spent by councils on capital projects - such as fixing potholes or traffic schemes - the surplus for 2011-12 stands at the "still very large figure" of £412m, a spokesman for the RAC Foundation said.

Details of what the money is spent on is not provided to the Department for Communities and Local Government, he added.

While disputing some of the figures, Westminster City Council still signalled its intention to work with road users to reduce fines.

Local Government Association's David Sparks: "Local authorities are reviewing their parking charges"

Councillor Daniel Astaire, Westminster City Council cabinet member for business, said: "The system is already changing and councils are already looking to work with motorists to issue fewer fines and crucially increase the amount of people parking correctly.

"Parking is about traffic management, tackling congestion and trying to implement positive benefits for businesses and high streets.

"If we stay in this Jurassic age of pure rhetoric about cash cows and money making, innovation will be stifled and we cannot engage with motorists properly in order to find the best solutions that will benefit everyone."

Kensington and Chelsea Council made the second biggest surplus of £28.1m and a spokesman told BBC London: "There is a greater demand for parking spaces in Kensington and Chelsea than practically anywhere else in the country.

"The council has discretion on how to spend any surplus that may arise, within the allowable purposes provided for by Section 55 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984."

Professor Stephen Glaister, from the RAC Foundation: "Temptation to ramp up charges to pay for general council budget"

Havering Council had the second lowest figures in London, despite its surplus of £703,000 having gone up by £563,000.

A spokeswoman said: "These latest figures show our commitment to giving residents and visitors to the borough value for money, as well as showing our support for local high streets and as a result the wider economy.

"Despite being the third largest London borough, parking charges in Havering are still among the lowest in London and have stayed the same for several years. But in April this year, we cut prices even further."

'Cash cow'

Councillor Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association's economy and transport board, said: "Parking revenue is spent on paying for parking services.

"Any money left over goes towards transport services like filling potholes, concessionary travel and road improvement projects.

Is technology the answer to London's parking problems? BBC London's Tom Edwards finds out

"As the report makes clear, many councils have to subsidise parking services as the cost is not covered by charges.

"Parking charges and fines help councils keep traffic flowing and pedestrians and motorists safe."

On Wednesday, government figures showed that money made from parking charges and fines by English councils is set to continue to rise.

The councils expect that net income from parking services is likely to increase from £601m in 2012-13 to £635m in 2013-14.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said: "This municipal parking profit shows why we need to review and rein in unfair town hall parking rules. The law is clear that parking is not a tax or cash cow for town hall officers."

Last week, the High Court ruled against Barnet Council's move to raise the cost of residents' parking permits in a landmark victory for campaigners.

Mrs Justice Lang ruled that the council acted unlawfully when it increased permit costs to generate more money for road maintenance.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 644.

    Free parking is one of the biggest perks going. Costs a fortune to build roads, and then some dozy dai comes and dumps a car on it.

    Car drivers aren't paying a fraction of what they cost the rest of us - it's not just the cost of the roads, it's the choking fumes and the damage they are doing to our children's planet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 643.

    617.AM So you first basic assumption failed at the first sentence.

    In commerce organisations make money through trade. Government obtains money from the public and imprisons them if they refuse to cooperate. The public sector's only source of funding is from commerce and private individuals.I think you might want to reflect on that essential difference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 642.

    The idea that parking charges reduce congestion is a complete con. In the days before charges all the parking spaces would be taken by shopworkers and the only people driving around would be locals who knew where the back street parking spots where. Now everyone thinks that there is a chance of finding a parking space so there is far more traffic. Parking charges are totally counterproductive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 641.

    "park responsibly and you have nothing to complain about"

    I thought this wasn't only about fines/penalties, but actual parking charges. It's just much too expensive in some much so that so many people simply have no choice but to go to the large out-of-town
    supermarkets etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 640.

    The council is ther to serve and not intimidate and break the law. More worryingly where does all the money go? Please do not tell me back to the people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 639.

    Its just another form of local taxation......

  • rate this

    Comment number 638.

    Local Councils should abolished.
    Surplus should be re-invested into the community but it ends up in Icelandic Banks or paying for jollies to 'twin towns' and other junkets.

    Allowing derelict and boarded up shops on high street to be converted into houses will be a start and please just abolish parking charges!

  • rate this

    Comment number 637.

    I thought that the new Prototype Happiness Index, you know the most recent B/S from the coalition Chuckle Brothers, nick & dave, would have meant that people would be delighted to be fleeced by councils?

    Surely as we have all been considered within the new "Prototype
    Happiness Index", that the idea is, no matter how we are shafted by Whitehall or our local councils, we are deemed happier

  • rate this

    Comment number 636.

    I don't really understand the logic in most top comments here. Regardless of whether or not there was free parking I would not park to do shopping. The cost of goods in shops tend to be much higher than those found online, as they do not have the overheads of the shop & staff. Would it really make that much of a difference to your choice?

  • rate this

    Comment number 635.

    @621. portslade
    In Brighton and Hove I used to enjoy popping into town for an early evening drink or meal. Since they extended the residents parking times until 8pm I don't bother anymore.
    That's very wise, drinking and driving is not a good idea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 634.

    Good luck to them. They should milk parking fines as much as they can. Hopefully, keep rates down!

  • rate this

    Comment number 633.


    why do you think so many people shop online now. no point going to a high street if you can't get what you want. having said that out of town shopping centres like Bluewater don't charge shoppers to park and have a bigger range of shops - another reason why high streets are getting hammered.

  • rate this

    Comment number 632.

    While and I like admire Mr Pickles, I think if the councils have to charge what they are to deter inconsiderate parking then making a surplus is a good thing. I agree that council's prime motive in making parking restrictions and setting fines should not be for revenue, but in most cases I don't think it is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 631.

    I have no issue with sensibly enforced parking regulations, especially if the proceeds are reinvested to provide better public transport and repairing the roads. Unfortunately I doubt this is the case and that it just goes towards some councillors 'bun fight'

  • rate this

    Comment number 630.

    At last it is in the open. Two things are killing in town shops and businesses. 1) Pedestrianiation and more importantly 2) Parking is totally inadequate and where it exists far too expensive. Towns should be crossroads (literally) of shoppers, markets and commerce. With them comes a social and pleasant society. At present, who could be bothered with going into a town to shop, browse and meet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 629.

    Parking fines are a cash-cow - we should do away with private car-parking companies, revert to Traffic Wardens only (who have no financial incentive to issue tickets) and stop this business which is out-of-control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 628.

    Councils: Car parking keeps people away from city centres. Shops in city centres close, council loses rate revenue from shops. People have no reason to go to city centres. Councilors’ foreign “fact finding tours” with Twin Town becomes unaffordable. So remember, it's only your own free holiday your jeopardizing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 627.

    Blame the councils central GOVERNMENT is cutting council budgets,although what they take in parking fees is lost in business rates has SME are priced out of business,charge higher rates to supermarkets after all their profits does mean that their parking lots value has risen

  • rate this

    Comment number 626.

    Compare parking charges to the alternative. If it is cheaper to park in town than get the the bus, then the cost of parking is cheap. Too cheap in fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 625.

    I pay £ 40 / year for a residents parking space outside my house - You only have to move away and casual parkers arrive, for a free hour to do their shopping etc.

    What about my £ 40, I've had to park in another street for an hour, and being disabled with a heart condition, where are the medics going to park !!
    The free parking should be abolished altogether and a charge per hour put on .


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    Alleged management failings are to be investigated at one of London's major healthcare providers.

    The South London and Maudsley Trust, which provides psychiatric services at four hospitals and serves seven boroughs, is to be looked into by the healthcare regulator Monitor.

    Striking workers gather for demo 09:43:

    BBC London Travel tweets: Demonstration Central London March forming up in Portland Place nr Langham Place at 11.30 and heading to Trafalgar Sq at midday Delays...

    Strike stall 09:36: Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: BBC's 'friends' will enjoy 'Join the Socialists here' stall by our front door. NB It's for strikers' rally

    Socialist Party stall
    Public sector strike 09:31: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    Vanessa Feltz has received varied reactions on her Facebook page to the public sector workers' strike, which the government said is not justified.

    Simon Attwood says: No justification? Are we supposed to blind ourselves to the ever growing divide and just carry on like good little soldier workers, providing the wealth for the few while many are visiting food banks so they can eat and the normal person can't even afford a home anymore?

    But Jet Judson comments: I think they should be grateful that they are in a job and they should try working in the Private Sector where there is no job security, no unions if you have an issue with your employer etc ....

    'Speculation and rumour' 09:21:

    Sources close to London Mayor Boris Johnson have described suggestions of him seeking to fight the 2015 election from Uxbridge and South Ruislip as "nothing more than speculation and rumour around another vacant seat".

    The mayor's official spokesman said: "The mayor is focused on one thing: delivering on his second term commitments for London - the continued creation of jobs and growth, the provision of new housing to meet growing demand, and the further reduction of crime in the city."

    Open seat for Boris Johnson? 09:11:

    Tory MP Sir John Randall, the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, has announced that he will not stand at the 2015 general election. Sir John, who represented the constituency for 17 years, said: "It's been a privilege and honour."

    John Randall

    The announcement last night is being seen by some Westminster commentators as an ideal route for a return to the Commons by London Mayor Boris Johnson, whose City Hall term runs until 2016.

    Egyptian statue sale 'catastrophic' 09:02:

    Renowned comic book writer Alan Moore says Northampton Borough Council's plans to sell a 4,000-year-old Egyptian statue valued at about £6m "could only be catastrophic".

    Statue of Sekhemka The statue stands 30in (76cm) high

    The council is looking to auction the Sekhemka limestone statue at Christie's in London later today to help fund a £14m extension to Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.

    Boris 'not running for parliament' 08:53:

    Sources close to Boris Johnson have played down speculation that he will run for Parliament in Uxbridge and South Ruislip as "nothing more than speculation and rumour around another vacant seat".

    According to The Sun, the current MP Sir John Randall will step down at the next election, paving the way for the mayor to return to Parliament but the mayor's office says he's focused on one thing - delivering on his second term commitments for London.

    Strike 'not justified'? 08:44: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    About a million public sector workers are expected to strike today over pay, pensions and working conditions. The government says there is no justification for the disruption.

    The Conservatives are considering changing the law on striking. Tell Vanessa Feltz what you think? Call on 0207 224 2000 or tweet @VanessaOnAir.

    Top headlines
    Public sector workers' strike 08:35:

    BBC London 94.9 tweets: PCS union staff prepare their picket line in Westminster.

    Picket line in Westminster
    Strike school closures 08:29:

    More than 600 schools are closed or partially closed in London today as teachers strike in a row over pay, pensions and workload.

    Barnet has closed 51 schools and partially closed 32 while in Lambeth 40 schools are closed and 18 are partially closed while 19 will open, according to the local authorities.

    Email and let us know your views and if you are affected.

    Public sector strike 08:23:

    More than a million public sector workers across the country are expected to strike in a series of disputes with the government over pay, pensions and job cuts.

    In London, teachers and RMT union members working for Transport for London are some of those involved in the action.

    Cloudy with a chance of rain 08:14: Wendy Hurrell BBC Weather, London

    A narrow band of rain will cause us some concern today and the Met Office is warning of some possible localised flooding.


    It's moving slowly so some places may end up with a lot of rain, while everywhere will be cloudy if it's not raining. Highs of 19C (66F).

    Queuing traffic 08:09:

    There is queuing traffic on the A406 at Chiswick Roundabout because of a traffic light failure, which is leading to congestion, and delays southbound for the A406 North Circular back to Ealing and northbound for the South Circular from Kew Bridge.

    On the trains, South West Trains heading out of Waterloo are not stopping at Earlsfield because of emergency engineering work.

    Get up to date travel information on BBC London travel News or on Twitter @BBCTravelAlert.

    08:00: Debabani Majumdar BBC London News

    Good morning, I'll be guiding you through BBC Local Live today, bringing you the latest news, travel, weather and sport from across London.

    Get in touch with your comments and photos by emailing



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