Drivers cough up nearly £2m in parking

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WIGAN Council raked in £1.9m in profits from parking charges and fines over the past three years.

Parking profits across Greater Manchester came to £13.6m in 2011/12 – £6.3m more than the previous year.

The council says it believes the prices it charges motorists are fair despite criticisms from the RAC.

Kevin Hargreaves, traffic manager for Wigan Council, said: “We believe our parking charges are fair and competitive when compared to neighbouring areas.

“The money the council gets from parking is ploughed straight back into services road users directly benefit from. It goes towards paying the council’s £14m bill for highways maintenance, street lighting, road safety improvements and gritting.”

The Manchester figure is the 15th highest for local authorities across the country and comes as city centre on-street parking charges face another increase. The figures were published by the RAC Foundation from the annual returns that councils make to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

They show the amount each of the 359 councils made after running costs, including the warden pay roll. One-off big expenditures are not included.

The authority with the biggest surplus was Westminster Council in London, which made £41.6 million in 2011/12.

Leeds made the 11th most profit and Newcastle the 12th most – the only two northern authorities above Manchester.

The figures showed that only 52 out of 359 councils made a loss on their parking operations in 2011/12.

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: “For many local authorities, parking charges are a nice little earner. The bottom line is that hundreds of millions of pounds are being contributed annually to council coffers through parking charges.”

Nationally, English councils made half a billion pounds profit from parking.