WINCHESTER City Council clocked up millions of pounds in profit from parking charges last year – a record high.

Figures have revealed that the authority raised £4.7million - the highest profit since comparable records began in 2008-09.

An AA spokesperson said the numbers showed councils see drivers as "wallets on wheels"

All the profit made by the council last year came from off-street parking, such as local authority-run car parks.

But the numbers from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government cost the authority £246,000.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “When it comes to parking charges, many councils see drivers as wallets on wheels.

“At a time when budgets are stretched, raking in parking fees seems to be a tool used to try and fill the councils’ coffers.

“Some of the incomes are eyewatering, so drivers want to see that cash reinvested in local roads to eliminate potholes and poor road markings.”

The rise in profits from parking in Winchester reflects the trend across England, and echoes that of neighbouring authority such as Eastleigh profited by £1.5million, up 31 per cent on the previous year.

However, nearby Test Valley saw a drop into earning of 15 per cent, with a pay off of £1million and Southampton saw a drop of 12 per cent, making £6million.

David Renard, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said councils were on the side of motorists and shoppers, and that parking policies aim to make sure there are spaces available for residents, high streets are kept vibrant and traffic is kept moving.

He added: “Any income raised through on-street parking charges and fines is spent on running parking services, and any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as filling potholes, supporting concessionary bus fares to help reduce congestion and other local transport projects that benefit high streets and local economies.”

A spokesperson for Winchester City Council said: “Parking income helps to fund the cost of car park operations. The council is also investing in measures to address traffic congestion, cut carbon emissions and improve air quality, which includes upgrades to city car parks, installing electric vehicle charging, extending park and ride and works that contribute to longer term plans for travel and transport.
“This will be further supported by a new parking management strategy that will be published later this year.”