Hard pressed Scottish motorists are paying out more than £100,000 a day in parking costs as the revenues gleaned by councils across the country soar.
More than £39 million in parking charges were collected by councils last year – up 9.1 per cent on the previous year.
Motoring organisations say drivers are being used as “cash generators” by councils to make up budget shortfalls as they deal with austerity cuts.
The bulk of the increase is down to a major hike in revenues in Glasgow, although it remains behind Edinburgh which rakes in almost £16m in parking charges.
Steve Williams of the RAC said parking is now becoming “fairly punishing for motorists”.
He said: “We feel that motor-ists get hit enough by fuel duty, vehicle excise duty and then you get hit by parking as well.
“It’s not too great for local traders as well. If you’re spending more money on parking it’s not going to help you spending money locally. From the overall motorists’ point of view, we feel that councils should be a little bit more lenient and not see this as a revenue generating mechanism.
“They’re trying to balance the books and use whatever they can to generate money and we’re increasingly concerned that parking is one of those things. It’s getting worse from what we’ve seen and becoming the norm instead of the exception.”
He added: “The car is very, very important in the lives of people in Scotland and therefore it is important that people can pay reasonable parking fees.”
Not all councils in Scotland charge, but Scotland on Sunday received responses from 17 local authorities which do. It found net incomes rose by £3.3m in 2011/12 when the figure was £35.76m to £39.04m in 2012/12.
This is a 9.1 per cent increase, while inflation stands at 1.9 per cent.
The bulk of the increase is down to Glasgow where income soared from £11.5m to £14.6m. And it came before the city unveiled further widespread hikes in off-street parking last year, which saw charges double in many of its busiest streets.
A Glasgow City Council spokesman said an annual review of parking costs is being established, but its transport policy aimed to encourage people to use public transport more.
He said: “As a result, parking bays are available for short term parking to those who require access to specific locations and the tariff is set to allow this with car parks available for longer stays.”
But Edinburgh continues to generate the most from parking in Scotland, with £15.9m gleaned from drivers in 2012/13, up £600,000 on the year before. This figure includes the income from residents parking permits which topped £2m last year.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh’s transport convener, said: “Charges for on-street parking allow the management of high demand kerbside space and also encourage drivers to think ahead when deciding how to travel to the city centre. Any funds generated by parking fines are reinvested in improving the conditions of our roads and pavements for residents and visitors to Edinburgh.”