Drivers are being handed almost 20,000 parking fines every day as councils scramble to replenish depleted coffers in the wake of the pandemic.
The average number of daily parking tickets issued by local authorities has risen by 12pc from 17,500 in 2021 to 19,631 in the first six months of last year, according to analysis by Churchill Motor Insurance.
Fines have surged by more than a third compared with the 14,426 issued each day in 2020, when successive lockdowns meant fewer cars on the road.
Parking fines can cost up to £70 outside of London and up to £130 inside the capital, with consumer rights campaigners warning motorists were “easy targets” for councils short on cash.
Parking fines brought in an average revenue of £777,287 each day for councils in the first half of last year – £35,113 more than the average in 2021. The data was collected by Freedom of Information requests sent to local authorities in October, to which 230 councils responded.
Scott Dixon, of consumer service The Complaints Resolver, said: “Councils are looking to boost revenues after their coffers took a hit during the pandemic and motorists are easy targets.
“It’s a money making racket. Motorists are seen as soft targets and councils are playing a percentage game knowing that most drivers don’t feel confident enough to appeal tickets. It’s grossly unfair and if drivers feel a ticket is unfair then they must push back and appeal.”
London councils proved the most likely to issue parking tickets, with some handing out around 10 times the national average.
Islington topped the list by sending over a thousand penalty notices every day, which raised an average of £44,799. Lambeth issued slightly fewer fines but brought in higher daily revenues of £48,424.
Waltham Forest sent out 874 fines that totalled £41,125, putting it at third place on the table.
Birmingham City Council – which represents over a million people – issued 373 tickets, which was the highest number outside the capital.
Across the country, revenues from parking fines were up 31pc in the space of two years from £594,418 to £777,287.
Brian Gregory, of the Alliance of British Drivers, argued that it was unfair that councils had decided to clamp down on drivers during a cost of living crisis.
He said: “Motorists are an easy target, of course – it’s more than inconsiderate, it’s downright wrong.
“The simple fact is that local authorities are up against it because costs are obviously going up and their income is being squeezed by the central government. They’re just thrashing about to find any way that they can to increase revenues.”
An Islington council spokesn said it was responsible for one of the country’s most densely-populated boroughs, meaning that parking spaces were at a “premium” and needed to be “properly managed”.
He added: “The council simply enforces existing parking laws, issuing fines when the law is not followed.”
Waltham Forest said it used penalties to keep its roads safe and traffic flowing.
A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: “Birmingham is the largest local authority in the country so inevitably comes at or near the top of tables based solely on raw numbers.”
“We encourage people to use public transport, or walk and cycle where possible for shorter journeys.”
Consumer expert Jane Hawkes said: “The number of parking charges issued is disappointing particularly when motorists are already being squeezed by high fuel and insurance costs to keep their cars on the road.
“Councils would do well to review their rates and look at how they can best support our high streets through a decrease in unfair fines and parking charges.”
Drivers who receive a parking fine typically have 28 days to pay or appeal to an independent tribunal, with the cost reduced if paid within a fortnight.
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