Councils pull in millions in parking charges

Camden, Haringey and Westminster added millions to their coffers thanks to parking charges last year - but Barnet’s profits appear to have plummeted.

Barnet was one of only two authorities in the whole of London which did not manage to make a surplus from its parking regime – both off-street and on-street.

The borough recorded a loss of £4,712,000, according to figures released by the Institute of Advanced Motorists – although Barnet dispute this, claming it made a surplus of £5,708,039.30 in the last financial year, claiming the disparity in the figures is an accounting anomaly.

For all councils, any extra cash brought in from parking charges is reinvested into the local road network through schemes such as concessionary travel, highways maintenance and street lighting.

This is unlikely to cheer residents who wince at the thought of forking out more than the cost of a cup of coffee for the pleasure of parking on or near their local high street.

In Haringey, parking charges have become a source of contention, with traders in Muswell Hill claiming the £3-an-hour cost is putting shoppers off and damaging their businesses.

Thousands signed a petition calling for the charge to be lowered, but it appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

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No doubt, the news Haringey increased its surplus by more than 63 per cent – from £3,256,000 to £5,312,000 – will further anger campaigners.

But Cllr Nilgun Canver, cabinet member for environment, has defended the decision to keep the cost up.

“The council continues to be committed to thorough consultation with residents on charges as well as on the availability of parking spaces within the borough.

She added: “Charges in Haringey compare well with neighbouring boroughs and are regularly reviewed.”

However, Haringey did not make as much as Camden, where the surplus rose from £20,077,000 to £24,256,000 – an increase of £4million.

But Cllr Phil Jones, cabinet member for sustainability, is quick to point out that just £1million of this came from drivers.

“The increase in Camden’s surplus is not due to hammering drivers with ever increasing fees, instead we have looked at how we can make ourselves more efficient,” he said.

“By removing more than £3million of costs from our overheads and being more cost-effective we have a larger surplus that we can use to deliver real improvements for all road users.”

In Westminster, the surplus was £37.1million – the highest in London – up by nearly 11 per cent on the £33.5million the council made the year before.

Cllr Daniel Astaire, Westminster cabinet member for business, said: “Westminster must manage the kerb space properly so that it is accessible to residents, visitors and businesses, all of whom have competing needs to park in one of the busiest cities in the world.

“Our parking service is geared towards ensuring compliance with these necessary rules and, as a result, we are pleased to see that the number of tickets given out to motorists in Westminster has halved since 2003.”