London Parking – A golden goose or a barren hen?


Type “London”, “parking” and “cash cow” into Google and you will get a staggering 318,000 results. The perception is clear: London’s town halls are milking the motorists for ever more money year on year. To get a more objective view we have reviewed the last three years of local authorities’ annual expenditure and revenue returns to central government to see exactly how much money councils raise from parking charges and perhaps more interestingly how those amounts have changed from the long forgotten boom times of 2007-8 through to the deep recession period of 2009-10.

In 2009-10, motorists paid a total of £540m to London’s councils for parking, equivalent to £180 for every vehicle registered in London. This is actually a reduction on previous years and is down by £17m since 2007-8. However, this reduction in parking revenue is not uniform with massive variations across London. So while Lambeth has increased parking revenues by nearly £14m over the last three years, Westminster has seen a reduction of nearly £20m. In fact, nine boroughs saw their revenue rise by least £1m over this period while twelve saw a fall in over £1m. In general it is the inner London Boroughs that have seen the largest falls in revenues with the outer boroughs seeing the biggest increases.

Total revenues earned from parking 2009-10 and change over 2007-8 (top 5 increases)

  Income £’000 change over 2007-8 £’000
Lambeth 44,006 13,556
Richmond upon Thames 12,111 4,839
Lewisham 8,411 2,730
Barking & Dagenham 5,540 2,424
Waltham Forest 9,940 2,044

Total revenues earned from parking 2009-10 and change over 2007-8 (top 5 decreases)

  Income £’000 change over 2007-8 £’000
Islington 28,959 -3,821
Kensington & Chelsea 37,557 -4,004
Hackney 13,186 -4,144
Camden 41,041 -5,884
Westminster 83,405 -19,774

 

However, while the motorist is concerned with how much money they hand over to their councils, local authority treasurers are more interested in knowing whether parking actually makes a profit or not. Because out of the money raised councils have to pay for parking enforcement and maintenance of their car parks.

Rather worryingly for those treasurers and perhaps even more so for London’s council tax payers, is that while parking in London as whole is profitable it has become less so in the last three years. Total London wide operating profits (before allowing for capital expenditures) from parking in 2009-10 were £180m down from £207m in 2007-8.

In fact the amount of profit made per council is with a few exceptions relatively small, for most being under £5m a year. Only five inner London councils (Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Wandsworth and Camden) now make more than £10m a year from their parking operations.

As with income London Boroughs have seen large swings in the profits they make. So Lambeth have turned a loss in 2007-8 to a small profit in 2009-10 while Camden and Westminster have seen profits fall by over £10m.

Net operating profit from parking 2009-10 and change over 2007-8 (top 5 increases)

  Net profit £’000 change over 2007-8 £’000
Lambeth 1,542 7,107
Ealing 6,183 5,927
Richmond upon Thames 5,655 4,350
Hammersmith & Fulham 14,071 1,648
Barking & Dagenham 2,100 1,227

Net operating profit from parking 2009-10 and change over 2007-8 (top 5 decreases)

  Net profit £’000 change over 2007-8 £’000
Kensington & Chelsea 21,765 -3,147
Islington 4,991 -3,207
Hackney 1,138 -4,675
Westminster 34,558 -10,656
Camden 10,460 -12,052

Parking revenues are certainly important to London Boroughs but they are under pressure and for most they are not the golden goose that many commentators perceive them to be.

 

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One thought on “London Parking – A golden goose or a barren hen?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention London Parking – A golden goose or a barren hen? « The Colin Buchanan Blog -- Topsy.com

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