Leeds City Council Sunday and night-time parking charging row EXCLUSIVE

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Cash-strapped Leeds City Council is increasingly relying on parking levies on motorists to help prop up its finances.

Figures obtained by the YEP show that in the last 12 months, the city’s car parks income hit a five-year high, despite recession-hit motorists generally driving less.

Car parking charges have contributed almost £26 million to council coffers over the last five years at 18 managed car parks. A further £16 million came from parking fines.

Campaigners – including church leaders – say motorists are continuing to subsidise the rest of the population, and will be punished more if the council’s controversial Sunday and evening parking charging plan is pushed through.

The council is considering the move as part of a raft of measures to slash £51 million from the city’s overall annual budget.

Roger Lawson, spokesman for the Drivers’ Alliance, urged Leeds’s city hall bosses to take heed of a similar failed policy in the London borough of Westminster, where a campaign against Sunday and evening charges – led by churches, theatres and restaurants – led to a U-turn.

The councillor championing the levy has now stepped down.

“Boroughs are raising charges purely because they can, and then use the profits to subsidise other things,” he said.

“They need to get money from elsewhere,

“We think parking should be a service provided by the council to residents and people should pay a fair and reasonable rate for it,

“It should not pay to subsidise the rest of the population.

“The way that councils are profiteering from car parking is unreasonable.”

He added that “if you put the charges up, the income usually goes down” because shoppers stay away in their droves.

“It’s very bad policy in our view to profiteer to the extent they are,” he said. “Leeds City Council should look at what happened in Westminster.” Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you

Chris Hearld at KPMG

Winds of change bring work to KPMG in Yorkshire