Peterborough City Council rakes in millions of pounds in ‘stealth tax’ on parking

Wellington Street car park EMN-170803-171606009
Wellington Street car park EMN-170803-171606009

The council in Peterborough earned millions of pounds over the past year in parking charges, figures show.

The AA says that parking charges are a “cash cow” for local authorities, and a stealth tax paid by drivers.

Parking services raised £3.1 million in revenue for Peterborough City Council in 2017-18, according to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data.

The majority of the income came from council-run car parks, which made £2 million over the past year.

Drivers paid the local authority a further £1.1 million in on-street parking charges, such as pay-and-display parking, residents’ permits and parking tickets.

More than 40% of the income from on-street parking was raised through penalty charges for illegal parking.

Overall, drivers in Peterborough paid an average of £14 per year in parking charges.

Jack Cousens, AA head of roads policy, said: “At a time of squeezed local authority budgets, drivers are not surprised to see that they are the cash cow council bosses turn to.

“Some councils receive millions of pounds worth of parking charges every year and still continue to increase their prices.

“With the continued rise of online shopping, there may come a point where drivers decide to forgo the high street entirely.

“The cost of parking should cover the cost of providing the service, not become a stealth tax paid by a few thousand who regularly visit the town.”

But the Local Government Association said that councils were “on the side of motorists and shoppers”.

Transport spokesman Cllr Martin Tett said: “Councils have to strike a balance when setting parking policy, to make sure that there are spaces available for residents, high streets are kept vibrant and traffic is kept moving.

He said that any income raised through parking charges is spent on running services, and that surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as “tackling our national £9 billion roads repair backlog”.

He added that councils were “leading the way in transforming the future potential of their town centres” and that parking was only a part of a successful solution.

Over the year the council spent £1.7 million on running, policing and maintaining parking services, meaning that they made a profit of £1.4 million in 2017-18.

Total income from parking charges has fallen since 2016-17, when the council took £3.7 million in revenue.

The Federation of Small Businesses said that the rising cost of parking has “a major impact on high streets and town centres”.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “For small businesses to thrive, customers should not be deterred with high car parking charges which put the future of our high streets in jeopardy.”

In England, a combined total of more than £1.6 billion was earned in parking revenue.

The top-earning council was Westminster, which took £88.8 million in parking charges over the year.

At the bottom was Breckland, East Northamptonshire and Broadland, with an income of just £1,000.