Motoring is already an expensive necessity; drivers wallets are squeezed in every way possible. We’re often seen as a cash cow, used to plug gaps in various Government budgets, from road tax to the cost of fuel we’re forced to pay a levy on everything related to the car, but there’s one stealth tax local councils impose – parking.
Since the 2012-13 financial year, parking income has risen by a whopping 40%, giving local authorities an impressive wage of £819 million.
That figure is also £37 million more than councils had forecast for the 2016-17 year, these numbers come from fees, permits and fines. At this current rate, parking income should top £1 billion by 2020.
It’s no surprise the top ranking local authority in the country was Westminster with a massive £73 million being earnt in the last financial year. Milton Keynes council hid away a tidy £11.1 mill as did Birmingham, Brighton and Hove pocketed a neat £21 million.
The analysis was conducted by the RAC Foundation who noted that 36 authorities posted negative numbers when it came to parking profits.
Such an increase is all down to the record numbers of cars on the UK’s roads, as well as an increase in the volume of traffic through our towns and cities. Drivers are urged to read signs carefully and to take note of all parking conditions, so they aren’t caught out.
These staggering figures are without even taking into account the often unscrupulous private parking companies, these alone banked a healthy £5.65 million last year. That figure is up a fifth in just 12 months, far above levels seen only ten years ago.
A new bill is on the cards to rewrite the code of practice for private firms; it’s the next rogue industry to finally face the music after clamping was banned in 2012, that law was part of the Protection of Freedoms Act. This act allowed private parking companies to go after the registered keeper, rather than proving who the owner was at the time of the offence.
In this light, 1.76 million car owner’s details were purchased by these private firms in the last financial year. The ticketing figure could be higher though, as fines can still be slapped on vehicles without ownership details being needed.
When it comes to the increase in parking permits some councils have been upping their prices by as much as 45%. Most local councils are putting up their prices by around 25%, that’s roughly eight times the cost of inflation, just to park your car in your hometown.
Some councils like Labour in Bristol have also banned free parking on Sundays. A new budget was passed earlier this year backing the motion, one which reimposes paid for parking on the Sabbath after a six-year abolishment.
Cheltenham has seen that headline increase of 45%, four hours parking on the high street there will now set you back £8, up from an already pricey £5.50.
Even the AA has recently said the price increases in fines and permits should be capped, an idea of first-time offenders being given a warning rather than a penalty would help kerb innocent mistakes. They’ve also accused some councils of enforcing parking rules with a sledgehammer, all to help raise cash for ailing coffers.
It’s said that the ‘majority’ of money from fines and permits is spent on local transport links or road repairs; sadly that’s not the case every time judging by the poor state of some council’s tarmac.
As always it’s the motorist who is hit the hardest unless the law changes or some mass civil action is undertaken the increase in parking charges, and fines will go unabated year on year.