Sunderland City Council made almost £700,000 ‘profit’ on parking last year, new figures reveal.
Figures from the RAC Foundation show the council’s parking operation had a surplus of £669,000 in the financial year 2017-18, up from £437,000 the previous year and the 196th highest figure in the country.
The foundation says the 353 local authorities in England have seen their parking profits rise by almost a third in just four years.
In 2017-18, the combined surplus was £867 million, up from £658 million in 2013-14.
Total income from both on- and off-street parking activity was £1.66 billion in 2017-18, while total expenditure was £793million.
Coun Amy Wilson, Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said: “In recent years, the City Council has been refreshing and updating its parking services.
The council is not making a profit, it is running a surplus, and this allows us to reinvest in parking facilities and this is exactly what has been done.Coun Amy Wilson
“This has included more parking bays, such as along the seafront, and more spaces in and around the city centre.
“All this work has offered more choice and flexibility and helped reduce what had been a deficit on parking services.
“The council is not making a profit, it is running a surplus, and this allows us to reinvest in parking facilities and this is exactly what has been done.
“Recent parking investments have seen an upgrade of the St Mary’s multi-storey car park to improve customer service with new entry and exit barriers, new pay stations and new credit/debit card facilities for contactless payments.
“With regards to parking charges, the facts are that between 2010 and 2015 they were frozen and the most recent increase has been 10p per hour at some locations, not all.
“It is also worth noting a recent survey by private number plate provider National Numbers found that Sunderland is the cheapest place for motorists to park their cars in the UK with drivers paying an average of just 79p to park.”
Analysis by the RAC Foundation shows that of the 353 councils which made official financial returns to central government, only 39 made a loss from their parking activities.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “When totted up council parking income amounts to a multi-million-pound business.
“Our purpose in publishing this analysis is not to suggest the existence of any sharp practice, but to encourage motorists to seek out and read their own local authority’s annual parking report - and ask some pointed questions if their authority doesn’t publish one.
“We think it is important that motorists check for themselves whether their own council’s explanation of the level of charges, penalties and details of how the net income is then spent reflects, as it should, the use of parking controls purely as a tool to manage traffic.”