Councils criticsed for super high parking charges

As council budgets begin to feel the strain of austerity measures, local transport minister Norman Baker has spoken out over the tendency to levy super high parking fees on motorists to make up for a lack of funds.

In some cases, the cost of parking has almost doubled, and the time they can park for nothing has also been radically cut back on. While the government has long said that councils can not profiteer from parking, many motoring groups are complaining of a 'stealth tax' on motorists.

'Parking charges should be fair and proportionate and any revenue raised should be used to improve transport in the area,' Mr Baker claimed.

'It is up to local councils to set their parking charges but we are clear that any decision to increase charges should be taken in response to changes in local traffic conditions - not as some sort of cash cow.'

The statement was welcomed by motoring groups across the country, with RAC president Stephen Glaister saying: 'We do not always see eye to eye with Government but here we are at one with Norman Baker. Councils cannot aim to raise money from parking charges. Fees should be set to manage congestion. Full stop.

'It is a matter of law. If a profit is made then that can be spent on transport. But parking policy cannot be set with the aim of subsidising other areas of a council’s budget. Any authority doing so risks legal challenge.'

Paul Pearson, who has lobbied the government to block the rises, was not convinced, adding: 'The government surely has to stop this assault on the motorist for revenue raising purposes but so far they have failed to take any action whatsoever.'

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