Councils make millions from parking machines that don't give change

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Parking stock

The RAC Foundation has called for councils to stop ripping motorists off, after it emerged that they are making up to £38 million by installing pay-and-display parking machines that don't offer change. The motorists' group revealed that councils in England charged a staggering £1.4 billion for parking between 2012 and 2013 - making £594 million profit. Further analysis emerged that £38 million of it could come from machines that don't offer change.

And this is far from the only recent outrageous parking decision.

The Daily Mail reported the estimated figures, based on a Freedom of Information request made by the BBC to Cornwall Council asking how much it made from machines that didn't give change - which we reported on last month. It then assumed that councils across England make the same proportion from their parking ticket machines, and came up with a total of £38 million.

It's a rough-and-ready calculation, so there's plenty of margin for error, but it's clear that the amount made from motorists who don't carry the right change is into the tens of millions of pounds.

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister told the Daily Mail: "This is adding insult to injury. Many would say charges are already too high without drivers having no choice but to pay for parking they do not need."

Last month Cornwall Council defended its no-change machines, saying: "If these machines gave change there would have to be a mechanism to ensure they were continually stocked with sufficient change and to address the situation if they were not. The logistical problems of doing this would be great and would result in a high cost. The 'base level' of change would also be left in the machines at all times making them much more prone to vandalism and theft."

However, Glaister argued that councils were making enough money from parking to enable them to upgrade machines to allow payment by phone or card - or to offer change.

Outlandish tickets

It's a shocking sum of money to be squeezing out of motorists, who are already paying through the nose for parking. However, motorists are growing used to outrageous parking decisions from councils.

Some of the more recent ones include the over-enthusiastic official at Bristol Council who handed out a ticket to a man who stopped for 90 seconds in order to check the parking restrictions.

Earlier this month a Cornish nurse left her car on an empty taxi rank in Wadebridge, while she dashed to the chemist for emergency pain relief medication for a dying patient. A warden quickly stepped in and gave her a ticket.

In March a young mother pulled into what she thought was a parking space in Queen Street in Blackpool, because she needed to breastfeed her baby. A traffic warden approached her and she realised she was in a taxi rank. She apologised and offered to move as soon as she had finished feeding. The warden handed her a ticket - which the council defended but waived as a gesture of goodwill.

In February Bradford Council issued a parking ticket to a man who had stopped in a bus stop - regardless of the fact he was simply stuck at traffic lights.

And last year we heard about the brave parking official who decided to ticket a Royal Mail van as the driver stopped to empty a post box.

Which councils are making the most from parking?

Which councils are making the most from parking?