Hackney Council generated more than £10 million in parking fine surpluses this year, putting it in the top ten of the national council parking fine surplus league, according to a new report.
A study by motoring charity RAC Foundation revealed that the top five local authorities with an excess of parking fines were in London. Hackney made tenth place and Tower Hamlets was close on their heels at 12th.
A Parking Charge Notice in Hackney can cost up to £130 for a serious offence, or a lower rate of £80 for a less serious offence. Serious offences include parking in a resident space or parking and unloading in a restricted street. Less serious offences include overstaying an expired ticket.
The RAC Foundation urged councils to reveal where the excess goes.
Steve Gooding, foundation director, said: “When a parking profit is made, the law states that 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.”
He warned that parking charge profits could tempt local councils to use them as a fundraising tool, in order to alleviate intense pressure on local budgets.
Gooding said that London’s surpluses are unsurprising because its roads are most congested and there is a lot of pressure on road space.
An environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association labelled the study “misleading and wholly inaccurate” and accused the report of peddling the myth that councils make a profit from parking.
He said income from parking fines is spent on running parking services and any surplus is spent on essential transport projects, such as tackling the £12billion roads repair backlog and creating new parking spaces.
He said: “Councils are on the side of hard-pressed motorists.”
Overall, UK councils made a surplus of £693 million in 2014/15, up £16 million on the previous year. Westminster council came top of the list, making a profit of £46.4 million.
A Hackney Council spokesperson said: “The London Borough of Hackney uses any surplus from its Parking account to contribute towards its charge for the London-wide Freedom Pass scheme. In 2015/16, Hackney’s charge for the Freedom Pass scheme was £12.3m.”
A Hackney resident tells Eastlondonlines:
“Moving in to a new flat in Hoxton last summer was exciting, if a little manic. The estate I was moving into had a car-park, and I’d applied for a permit before I moved in.
“When it came to moving-in day, it still hadn’t arrived. After the first load of moving, I stayed at the flat, parking my car in the car-park with a note on the windscreen explaining. I woke up the next day to a £70 parking ticket.
“The next load, the same thing happened, despite replacing the ticket on the windscreen along with the same note I’d written. When it came to paying them I found that, along with the two envelopes on my windscreen, the parking attended had actually stuffed two tickets inside one envelope.
“I’d only just moved in and I’d received three parking tickets in two days. It totally ruined the excitement of the move. Paying within the designated 14 day period would have landed fines of £210. I contested them online and was excused from paying two of them, but it definitely wasn’t the welcome to Hackney that I had been hoping for.”