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Profiting from Parking

A very extensive report entitled "Profiting from Parking" was published by the ABD in October 2010. It gives the revenues and costs from parking operations, and from "decriminalised moving traffic offences" for a number of London boroughs. It is contained in this pdf document: Profiting_from_Parking.

The revenues, costs and hence profits for individual boroughs can be found on this web page: Borough_Parking_Profits

Parking Fines in London

The following articles were published in August 2010 concerning the parking regime in London (see also Permit_Parking for information on Controlled Parking Schemes).

The charges imposed for infringing parking regulations have been growing rapidly in London over the last few years. These “decriminalised” charges (i.e. where you do not get a proper trial), also apply to minor moving traffic offences such as bus lane and “yellow box junction” infringements. 

The following are some figures recently published by the Taxpayers Alliance for London boroughs after they looked at penalty charges nationally. Figures given are the total revenues in parking penalties for 2008/2009 and the increase over the prior year: 



% Change

Barking & Dagenham












City of London















Hammersmith & Fulham









Kensington & Chelsea



Kingston upon Thames









Richmond Upon Thames









Tower Hamlets






For some boroughs the latest figures are not available but Camden for example managed to record a massive £26m in 2007/2008. Some of the figures are also difficult to explain – for example why is Greenwich bottom in terms of revenue raised when it is not known to be a motorist friendly borough? 

The neighbouring borough of Southwark managed to collect 9 times as much! And why are the revenues of some boroughs falling when others are rising? If anyone knows the answers to those questions then please let us know. 

One of the most iniquitous aspects of the system is that local boroughs rely on the surplus revenue from penalty charges to subsidise other transport schemes, and particularly in London to pay for the “Freedom Passes” which grant free use of public transport to the elderly or disabled. They therefore have a strong incentive to obtain more revenue from these charges even though the law says that technically they should not be using them to raise general revenue.  

There is a consultation currently being undertaken by London Councils in conjunction with TfL – see for details. It is quite likely the charges will be increased as a result. And who will decide on the matter? That will be the London Councils Transport and Environment Committee (TEC) in reality. And who controls “London Councils” – the London Boroughs for who they are the representative body. Both the Mayor of London, and the Secretary of State for Transport can overrule the TEC but that has never happened. 

So we have a pernicious system where the motive is to set the charges to raise lots of revenue and is not related to the level of compliance with the regulations, or whether the penalties are fair. Indeed there is no information on compliance available because councils do not collect it but typically set “targets” for revenues to be obtained from their sub-contracted operators. 

The response from the ABD to this consultation can be obtained from this web page: .


Bromley’s Parking Revenue

To get some understanding of the profits that council’s make from parking fines, let’s look at the income and costs in one London borough – the Borough of Bromley (Editor: and thanks to Bromley for coming up with these figures so promptly; I will try and obtain some data for other boroughs but I expect it to take some time).

Here are the figures for 2009-2010 for all parking income, associated “enforcement” revenue from penalty charges, income from bus lane penalty charges, the associated costs and where the surplus of income over expenditure is spent. 



Income (£m)

Costs (£m)

On-street Parking (meters)



On-street Enforcement



Permit Parking



Off-street Parking



Off-street Enforcement



Bus Lane Enforcement






As you can see, they all show a substantial surplus with an overall profit of almost 4 million pounds. 

Off-Street Profits. However £1.27m of the profit comes from off-street parking (i.e. from the councils own car parks) and these figures ignore any capital costs related to the provision of those facilities and the £308,000 that was spent on maintenance of them in that year.  But it does suggest those charges are a lot higher than they need to be. Off-street enforcement basically covers its costs. 

On-Street Profits. The profits from on-street parking are £1.6m with an additional surplus of £0.49m from enforcement. In addition they made a surplus of £0.14m from bus lane enforcement (not that there are many in Bromley).  The total profits from those items were therefore £2.23m.  

Where were these “profits” spent? Some £100,000 was spent on “Traffic Management Schemes”, £201,000 on “Improvement Schemes”, but the vast majority of it went on “Concessionary Fares” which took £1,773,000. 

Concessionary Fares are mainly the Freedom Pass granted for free travel to those over 60 or who are disabled. 

So in effect road users are supporting this concession whereas it should be a general charge on all taxpayers. The Freedom Pass system was introduced by Ken Livingstone as a hand-out to the electorate and it has been carefully concealed from you since as to how it is paid for. It is managed by TfL but the local boroughs are charged for the cost, and it has been rising rapidly in recent years. To avoid substantial increases in your Council Tax (which has consistently increased at a faster rate than general inflation anyway), borough politicians have been looking for other ways to cover the cost, and parking charge surpluses have been the answer. 

Despite the fact that there was a legal ruling some years back that parking charges should not be used as a general revenue raising method, councils can do this because they can use the surplus to support other transport schemes following a change to the relevant legislation (a not unreasonable proposition apparently at first sight). 

(Editor’s Comments:  Parking and penalty charges are now being used to bail out the electorate from their own failing to recognise an electoral bribe for what it was. You should know that there are no free lunches in this world and that someone has to pay for these freebies given to a growing proportion of the population, most of whom could well afford to pay. Why should road users subsidise this system? The sooner this system is changed so that taxpayers become aware of what it costs, and all taxpayers contribute to it, so much the better).


Olympic Route Network

The Olympic Route Network and charges to be imposed for infringing it are also the subject of a current consultation – see and for details. 

A press release from the ABD quoted Roger Lawson as saying: “We opposed the whole idea of reserved lanes for Olympic use. We see no reason why games administrators, media staff, employees of games sponsors and their guests should be able to occupy valuable road space to the exclusion of Londoners going about their normal business. The proposed penalty of £200 for infringing these lanes is simply outrageous, when there is no justification for it at all”. 

Boris Johnson has said that “It will mean inconvenience for London drivers for 17 days of the games”, but this is simply wrong. Taking into account the main Games and the Paralympic Games the restrictions are likely to run from the 27th July when the Games start to the 9th September when the Paralympic Games finish and it is indicated that any Traffic Management Orders will not be lifted until 5 days later, so in total it means at least 49 days, not 17! 

It also seems likely that many people will be confused by the temporary restrictions, and it is unlikely that the Olympic Reserved Lanes will be marked to the same standards as current bus lanes. In reality, many people are going to accidentally collect a £200 fine which is simply unreasonable. 

The ABD opposed the whole concept of reserved Olympic Lanes but our comments were ignored. Reserved lanes will be installed on many roads including Park Lane, Southampton Row, Victoria Embankment (most of it), Tower Hill, The Highway, Limehouse Link, A106 Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach, A11, A102 Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach, A2 Shooters Hill Road. These comprise many of the key routes for traffic across central London.  

You can see the response we made to the consultation on the proposed penalty charges here: - but please make your own submission also – the deadline for this is the 31st October.  


Obtaining Financial Information on Parking from Your Council

Use this template letter if you wish to obtain the figures on income and expenditure, and the profits that are made, on parking and decriminalised moving traffic offences from your local Council: Parking_Information_Template

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