The amount motorists pay to councils across England in parking charges and fines has increased by almost 10 per cent in the last five years.
Data obtained by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request shows most regions taking more money from motorists.
For the first time the FSB has asked all councils to detail their total income from parking, permit and penalty notice charges.
In 2008 this was £810 million, increasing to £884 million in 2011 – a rise of almost 10 per cent.
The FSB believes there is a clear connection with protecting local high streets and the impact that parking charges can have.
The FSB, which has launched the findings during Small Business Advice Week, is now calling on local authorities to work closely with the business community and residents to get a more effective parking policy in place.
It wants to see business groups and central and local government join forces to discuss creative solutions to the parking issues faced by regions, with heavy parking charges used only as a last resort.
Across the regions, East Yorkshire received the least in parking income from motorists, while unsurprisingly London and Thames Valley were the regions to take the most from motorists.
However, the FSB believes that some councils could be using parking charges as a revenue raiser with several councils posting above inflation increases.
In addition, FSB research shows that businesses in urban and rural areas have different priorities when it comes to availability and cost of parking which must be addressed.
For example, 59 per cent or urban retailers believe that reducing the cost of parking is a priority, compared to 45 per cent of rural retailers. Just over half (53 per cent) of urban retailers believe that increasing the availability of parking should be a priority, compared to 31 per cent of rural retailers.
This is backed up by the FOI request showing that the top five councils that take the most from motorists are in urban areas taking a staggering £480 million.
The FSB supported the Mary Portas Review, launched 2011. It gave 18 recommendations to Government one of which suggested that “local areas should implement free controlled parking schemes that work for their town centres and should have a new parking league table”.
Gordon Millward, regional chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“We know there is no such thing as free parking, but local authorities need a voice in the local community about how the cost and availability of parking affects their business. We know that budgets are tight, but we don’t want to see parking being used as a revenue grab.
“FSB experience shows that when parking charges are introduced many shops suffer. The recent idea to allow parking on double yellow lines was met with fierce criticism in some areas. We believe this shows the need for a wide debate on the issue and how localised it is.
“We want to see organisations and local authorities come together to discuss parking provision to make it work, not just for business, but for customers too.”
Simon Cliffe of Small Business Advice Week said:
“A number of the local businesses we’re in contact with cite the rising cost of parking as a key reason for a drop in footfall – which for so many of them is the lifeblood of their business. We want this to be a stark wake-up call; right now parking’s not a factor businesses can control which means it’s not fair, especially as the government is placing so much emphasis on SMEs being a community who can get the UK get out of the economic slump.
“Small Business Advice Week is about providing useful information to help businesses help themselves to become stronger, and we’re echoing the FSB’s calls for local authorities to work with organisations to make parking provision work.”