COVENTRY council is taking among the highest income from car parking in the country, according to new national league tables.
The council raked in £6.4million for car parking charges last year, which places the city in the top 15 highest revenue collectors from car parks among English councils outside London.
The figure represents a 6 per cent increase on the previous year – higher than the national average for on-street and off-street parking combined of 4 per cent.
The city collected £5.2million from car parks five years ago.
Although Coventry City Council is ranked 15th for car park income (off street), it is not in the top 20 of a separate top twenty league which also includes on-street parking.
The league tables are published in a new report by the motorists’ charity the RAC Foundation, which says council parking “profits” have leapt to a new record high, hitting a surplus of almost £700million.
Nottingham is first in the off-street car parking league table, collecting £15.4million in 2014/5. Birmingham is placed fourth, at £9.7 million.
The report states: “In contrast to on-street parking which is dominated by the London boroughs, off-street parking is much more important in large towns.
“Overall off-street income was static, so any efforts by councils trying to reduce parking charges in high streets to encourage trade have been offset by higher charge elsewhere.”
The figures are calculated by taking income from parking charges and penalty notices, then deducting running costs.
The rise in profits is accounted for by an increase in parking income rather than a reduction in running costs (which were in line with the previous financial year).
The data, analysed for the RAC Foundation by transport consultant David Leibling, comes from the statutory annual returns that councils make to the government’s Department for Communities and Local Government.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The financial sums involved in local authority parking are huge and the overall profits eye-watering. And once again the year-on-year direction of travel is upwards.
“The legal position is that parking charges are to be used as a tool for managing traffic. But with local government budgets under ever-greater pressure the temptation to see them as a fund-raiser must be intense.
“When a parking profit is made the law states that, essentially, the money can only be spent on transport and environment projects. We are simply asking that all councils publish annual reports to tell drivers exactly where this huge excess ends up.
“The precarious financial state of many councils is a genuine concern, not least when it comes to the risk of a cut in road maintenance spending which will hit every one of us. A funding solution requires national and local government to look beyond the High Street parking meter.”
The Local Government Association said the report was misleading, as all council’s use income from car parking to meet the costs of providing it, and any surplus goes to other transport schemes such as highways and road repairs.
A Coventry City Council spokesperson said: “The council invests millions each year on transportation and highways.
“Our parking fees are comparable and competitive with other similar areas and our prices have not increased for about five years.
“We also regularly offer incentives such as a cheaper weekly ticket and reduced daily rates in City Arcade and Moat St car parks.”
Some city car parking charges have increased, while others have not.