A council leader has hit out at claims that town halls make profits from parking charges and fines after a new report showed record surpluses of almost £600m being raised across the country.
The RAC Foundation found that in 2012/13 councils made £594 million from on and off-street parking operations.
Leeds City Council generated the most in Yorkshire at £6.2m. Wakefield made £1m through parking activities. The RAC added up income from parking charges and penalty notices, then deducting running costs.
Wakefield Council leader Peter Box, commenting on behalf of town halls across the country, said the RAC report was “peddling the myth” that councils use parking charges to make money.
Coun Box, a member of the Local Government Association’s economy and transport board, said: “The reality is that the average motorist is paying 30 times more to Whitehall in charges and taxation each year than they do to their town hall through parking.
“Councils are on the side of hard-pressed motorists by keeping a lid on parking charges.
“Many already publish annual parking reports to be open and transparent with residents and combat the deep-rooted misconception that they are being used to raise money. Councils do not make a profit from parking.
“All income from charges and fines is spent on running parking services and any surplus goes on essential transport projects such as bringing our dilapidated road network up to scratch and providing subsidised bus travel for children or elderly residents.”
He said all money raised was spent on running parking services or other essential transport projects.
The RAC said its data came from the annual returns councils make to the DCLG. The figures are calculated by adding up income from parking charges and penalty notices, then deducting running costs.
RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: “It is a case of deja vu. Once again English councils have made record amounts from parking. Yet overall spending on local roads has fallen by nine per cent over the past three years with road safety expenditure down by as much as 20 per cent.
“The Government’s recent decision to consult on changes to parking rules and regulations is timely and we have always argued that at the very least all councils should publish an annual parking report to explain how much money is collected.”