WEST Berkshire Council made almost £1.5m through parking charges, fines and permits in the last financial year.
Recent figures reveal the local authority ended 2015-16 with record profits of £1,497,830 from its parking operations – £237,000 more than the previous year’s total of £1,260,043.
The surplus includes funds generated from all parking activities including off-street and on-street ticket sales, penalty charge notices (PCNs) and permits, minus expenditure.
The figures show that parking profits have continued to rise for the fifth year in a row, despite a continued increase in spending.
Between April 2015 and March 2016, West Berkshire Council brought in £1,969,542 from car park ticket sales and a further £130,636 from on-street ticket sales.
A total of £236,110 was paid to the council in parking fines while £46,277 was paid in Bus Lane PCNs.
Along with other miscellaneous income streams, the council took in a total of £3,049,776 during the financial year.
However, West Berkshire Council spent a total of £1,551,946 on running its parking operations, an increase from £1,492,626 in 2014/15.
Legally, any surplus from parking revenue must be reinvested in transport and environment projects.
Parking charges in council-run car parks in Newbury, Thatcham, Pangbourne, and Theale all increased last year, while the Sunday charges in Newbury car parks – previously a flat rate – were scrapped and replaced with the higher weekday tariff.
Charges are set to rise again next year as part of the council’s 2017/18 budget proposals.
West Berkshire Council spokesperson Peta Stoddart Compton said: “A High Court ruling in July 2013 stated that a council may lawfully spend surplus parking income on a broad range of functions including traffic schemes, pedestrian crossings, school crossings, speed limits, bollards, traffic wardens and different types of parking facilities.
“West Berkshire Council’s surplus parking income is used in full accord with that ruling.”
Meanwhile, local councils across the country have seen the collective surplus rise to more than three quarters of a billion pounds.
In the 2015-16 financial year the 353 local authorities in England generated a combined profit of £756m from their on-street and off-street parking activities.
This is a nine per cent leap on the 2014-15 figure of £693m, and 34 per cent higher than in 2011-12.
Speaking about the national figures, director of the RAC Foundation, Steve Gooding, said: “These numbers might seem eye-wateringly large, but in part they reflect the growing competition for space in many of our towns and cities.
“In 1995 there were only 21.4 million cars on Britain’s roads, today there are 30.7 million.
“Parking charges are one of the tools councils use to keep traffic moving whilst also allowing people reasonable and affordable access to high street shops and other facilities.
“The good news is that any profit generated by councils from on-street parking must by law be spent on transport-related activities, and as every motorist knows there’s no shortage of work that needs doing.”