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Council parking income is ‘multi-million-pound business’, says RAC

English council parking ‘profits’ reached £867m in 2017-18 – up by almost a third (32%) in just four years and marking a new record.


Woman paying at parking meter

English council parking ‘profits’ were up 6% in 2017-18

Analysis carried out for the RAC Foundation by transport consultant David Leibling shows that the 353 English local authorities reported total income from both on and off-street parking activity of £1.66bn in 2017-18. Allowing for the reported total expenditure of £793m, this gives a £867m surplus or ‘profit’; 6% more than the £819m made in the 2016/17 financial year and also 11% higher than the £782m surplus that the councils themselves had budgeted for.

The analysis, compiled from the official returns that councils make annually to the Department for Communities and Local Government, also showed that only 39 of the total 353 councils made a loss from their parking activities.

Previously, the RAC Foundation has said the silver lining for drivers is that these surpluses must almost exclusively be ploughed back into transport.

Commenting on the latest figures, Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Our purpose in publishing this analysis is not to suggest the existence of any sharp practice, but to encourage motorists to seek out and read their own local authority’s annual parking report – and ask some pointed questions if their authority doesn’t publish one.

“We think it is important that motorists check for themselves whether their own council’s explanation of the level of charges, penalties and details of how the net income is then spent reflects, as it should, the use of parking controls purely as a tool to manage traffic.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.