Local authority parking accounts come under scrutiny every year, and while the figures quoted provide a headline grabbing article, the BPA says, as ever, they do not tell the full story.

Parking income comes from a variety of places including car parks, on-street parking and resident parking schemes. Income from Penalty Charges is also included in council's published figures.

More cars on our roads and a greater demand for parking to be managed inevitably leads to more income being generated. However, there is a cost associated with managing residents parking schemes, roads and car parks, which is often overlooked or not communicated to motorists who only see a surplus rather than the significant investment into other community services like public transport, concessionary fare schemes and school buses, all of which helps to reduce congestion for the benefit of motorists.

The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 includes provisions to control the use of parking surplus. In essence, the legislation says income from all penalty charges (whether issued for on-street or off-street contraventions) plus any income from on-street parking fees and charges must be used to provide, maintain or improve parking, roads and transport services.  Income from off-street parking fees and charges is for general use by the local authority. Often it is used to pay for other vital public services. This means the total ‘surplus’ and the way it is spent as cited by Confused.com in their research for example is not as clear cut as the figures suggest. It is important to remember that all councils’ income, regardless of where it comes from, is reinvested in the local community 

Kelvin Reynolds BPA Director of Corporate and Public Affairs said:  “There are strict rules laid down by law that stipulate how any parking surplus funds are spent and this typically means re-investment in traffic management and related services that benefits the entire community.  

“Many councils also provide annual reports so that residents can see how the money is spent, and we encourage everyone to do so. Ironically, it is the authors of these media stories who seem to be confused about what these figures show and what happens to the income.”