NEW figures show that Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) made £1.3m from its parking operations in the last financial year.

The authority’s parking surplus rose just over five per cent from the financial year 2015-6, when it made £1.26m from a mix of on-street and off-street parking charges, permits and penalty income.

The figures are worked out by the amount of income received by councils from its parking facilities, such as fees and penalties, subtracted by the amount the council spends to run these operations.

The figures, published by the RAC Foundation, came from transport consultant David Leibling who looked at the official returns that councils make annually to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

A TVBC spokesperson said: “The annual surplus on the council’s parking is re-invested into the borough. It is spent on improving or maintaining the appearance and amenity of open spaces to which the general public has access, such as playgrounds, urban parks and open spaces, outdoor sports facilities and nature reserves.”

In TVBC, parking charges are reviewed annually and were last increased in April 2016, after a fee freeze since 2012.

Overall, across 353 local authorities, £819m was left over from parking operations and costs available to spend, up on average six per cent per year.

The largest surpluses were seen in London, with 33 of the capital’s boroughs making 46 per cent of the whole English total. Westminster had the largest surplus at £73.2m, up 31 per cent on the previous year.

Director of the RAC Foundation Steve Gooding said: “The upward path in profits is in part a reflection of the record number of cars and volume of traffic.

“The silver lining for drivers is that these surpluses must almost exclusively be ploughed back into transport and as any motorist will tell you there is no shortage of work to be done.”

“We welcome the fact that councils are increasingly investing in technology to help make parking easier and less stressful. Westminster, for example, has created an app which directs drivers to free parking bays, helping to end the motoring misery of prowling the streets looking for a space.

“We urge motorists to take the time to read their own local authority’s parking report so they can see both the rationale for charges in their area and how the surplus is being spent.”