Living Streets Edinburgh said not increasing the £60 penalty, which had not gone up for more than 20 years, would simply encourage drivers to ignore parking restrictions, making things worse for everyone.
The group pointed to a Transport Scotland consultation to which 70 per cent of responses backed increasing fines, which are halved to £30 if paid within two weeks.
The Scottish Government agency acknowledged the penalty level meant some drivers wrote them as parking charges and it had not deterred re-offending since some motorists received multiple fines a day. However, it said it was “not an appropriate time to introduce [an increase] due to the current cost-of-living crisis”.
David Hunter, convener of the Living Streets Edinburgh group, said: "Freezing the cost of a parking ticket for 20 years while the cost of commercial and on-street parking has pretty much doubled makes no sense. This can’t be justified by the cost-of-living crisis – if you park legally, there’s nothing to pay.
"Illegal parking makes life harder for all other road users – pedestrians, cyclists, buses and other responsible motorists. We should be doing all we can to discourage it, and this is doing exactly the opposite.
"It also undermines parking enforcement – the income from parking tickets goes mostly to fund wardens. So if there was more income from parking tickets, more tickets could be issued and there would be less illegal parking."
All 18 councils which responded to the consultation backed increased penalties. The City of Edinburgh Council said: “As the consultation acknowledges, penalty charge notice (PCN) charges have not changed since 2001. However, across the country, other parking charges, such as pay and display and parking permits, have increased significantly.
"The level of PCN charge must act as an appropriate deterrent for inconsiderate parking. It is now the case that paying a reduced rate PCN at £30 can be more cost-effective than paying for parking time, or parking considerately in an appropriate location, for some motorists.”
The council said increased bus, taxi and train fares “can make driving a private vehicle a more attractive travel option even if parking is likely to be problematic and potentially result in a PCN”.
Transport convener Scott Arthur said: “The Scottish Government’s refusal to review parking fines is a slap in the face to those of us who abide by the rules of the road. Parking restrictions are often in place to assist public transport, so being able to set proportionate fines for those who put their own self interest first is key to cutting congestion.”
Arguments against an increase among the consultation responses included the public and businesses were recovering from the pandemic, and that it could put financial pressure on drivers.
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We considered carefully the case for raising penalty charge levels, but also noted that the consultation was conducted before the current cost-of-living crisis. We will keep this under review, and would welcome further engagement with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on it.”