Everything is now coming to a head and 2010 will be the year when this stealth tax is exposed and replaced with fair, proportionate, transparent and LEGAL enforcement.
Motorists hit by higher parking fees and fines
Local councils raised £1.9 billion from parking fees and fines last year, with some doubling the amount of money they squeeze out of motorists.
By James Kirkup, Political CorrespondentPublished: 9:00AM GMT 04 Jan 2010
Councils have increased parking fees and fines Photo: HEATHCLIFF O'MALLEY
Official financial returns from more than 400 local authorities for 2008/2009 show that the drivers are paying increasing amounts of money for parking their vehicles.
In 2005/06, the amount collected from parking fines, fees and permits was £1.7 billion, meaning the total has risen by 13 per cent.
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Some councils increased their parking revenues by much more than the national average.
North Wiltshire’s parking revenue more than doubled, from £752,000 to £1.6 million. In North Tyneside, the increase was 94 per cent. The biggest parking revenues were in Westminster, which took in £180 million last year, a 19 per cent rise.
The disclosure comes as it emerged that motorists guilty of minor offences such as parking misdemeanours are to be hit with a £15 surcharge to help victims of domestic violence or sex attacks.
The fee will be added to fixed penalty tickets given out by police for offences such as breaking parking regulations or speeding.
The figures on parking charges were revealed in official council financial returns submitted to the Department of Communities and Local Government.
The figures cover money paid for tickets in council car parks, sales of residents’ parking permits, and fines imposed for illegal parking.
Some councils have increased their income simply by raising parking fees. In Wolverhampton, the cost of staying for two hours in one of its car parks, at Fold Street, jumped from £1.20 to £1.50 between 2006 and 2009 while the cost of three hours at the Civic Centre, rose from £2.30 to £2.50.
The council's total take from parking fines and charges over the same period climbed from £3 million to £4.6 million over the three years, a jump of 53 per cent.
Separate figures published in November suggested that illegal parking fines raised more than £300 million for councils this year.
Privately, some council leaders say they have been forced to raise more money from parking because council tax and central government grants are not covering their rising costs.
Peter Roberts of the Drivers’ Alliance, a motoring group, said parking costs can hurt local businesses.
He said: “These figures will reinforce the belief from the driving public that they are being used as motorised cash machines by a government desperate for money.
“With the economy in dire straits and businesses needing customers, encouraging visitors to towns should be a priority.
"Instead we see insatiable money-hungry councils charging excessive parking fees which not only leave people with less spending money but also dissuades them from visiting.
"It is time for a reality check and less of the fleece-the-driver mentality.“
Jennifer Dunn, Policy Analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the figures showed councils are using drivers as “cash cow”.
She said: “Councils are generating huge amounts of revenue through parking, which has clearly become an increasingly lucrative source of income to finance rapidly growing bureaucracies in the local authorities.
“With council tax having doubled across the country, motorists in some areas where parking revenue has also doubled are being treated as cash cows.
"It is time for local government to stop seeing drivers as a means to plug their finances and acknowledge the benefits they bring to local economies, particularly in the recession.”
The Local Government Association, which speaks for councils in England, insisted that any money councils get from parking is reinvested in improving the local transport network.
Defending the use of parking fines, the LGA said: “Parking restrictions are in place to keep people safe on our streets, stop traffic jams and keep roads clear for the emergency services.
"Councils will not apologise for giving out parking tickets to stop cars parking illegally.”
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