Parking: Fees and Charges

House of Lords written question – answered on 23rd January 2015.

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Photo of Lord Scriven Lord Scriven Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the report by the RAC Foundation Local Authority Parking Finances in England 2013/14, what assessment they have made of English local authorities' income from off- and on-street car parking operations to ensure they are not making excessive profits.

Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government)

The figures published by the RAC Foundation are based on data returns published by my Department. Council returns’ suggest that profit (“net income”) on parking services was £635 million in 2013-14. Penalty charge income from on-street parking was £343 million. The RAC Foundation observe that some councils’ operational costs have fallen due to greater efficiencies, overall gross income has increased; as a result, net profit has risen. Legislation and guidance is clear that on-street parking should not be used as a source of general revenue.

Unreasonable parking charges and fines push up hard-working people's cost of living. If parking is too expensive or difficult, shoppers will simply drive to out of town supermarkets or just shop online, undermining the vitality of town centres and leading to ‘ghost town’ high streets. This Government has rejected the last Administration’s policy of encouraging higher parking charges and aggressive parking enforcement, and is standing up for hard-working people and local shops.

We are introducing a series of reforms, including:

Stopping the abuse or misuse of on-street parking CCTV;Reforming operational parking guidance so it is less heavy handed with motorists, prevents over-aggressive action by bailiffs, positively supports local shops and clearly reinforces the prohibition against parking being used to generate profit;Introducing mandatory 10 minute “grace periods” at the end of on-street paid and free parking, and looking to extend this to off-street municipal parking;Implementing a new right to allow local residents and local firms to demand a review of parking in their area, including charges and the use of yellow lines;Proposing a widening of the powers of parking adjudicators, and updating guidance so the public know when they can be awarded costs at tribunals;Trialling a 25% discount for drivers at appeal stage, reversing the current disincentive for drivers with a legitimate case to appeal; andChanging guidance so drivers parking at an out-of-order meter are not fined if there are no alternative ways to pay.

We have also recently updated the local government Transparency Code to increase information about local parking charges and the number of parking spaces, which we expect councils now to implement as required by the statutory code.

The measures on curtailing parking CCTV are contained within the Deregulation Bill, and I hope that noble peers will be supporting our measures at Report Stage in light of the figures in the RAC Foundation report.

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