SCOTTISH councils have made a record profit of £33.5 million from parking charges and fines, figures show.
Scotland’s three main city council’s accounted for almost the entire amount – Edinburgh City Council raised £15.3m, while £10.3m was made by Glasgow City Council and £5m in Aberdeen.
“Authorities should be transparent about where profits go”Prof Stephen Glaister
Analysis from the RAC Foundation shows a total of £73.3m was raised across the country through parking in 2013-14, while the combined cost to councils of running parking activities was £39.8m.
This leaves a profit of £33.5m, up £200,000 on the previous year.
The analysis came from data returned annually to the Scottish Government by local authorities.
It showed that 16 councils made a profit, 13 made a loss and parking operations in the Shetland Islands broke even.
Two councils, East Lothian and North Lanarkshire, did not provide accounts.
Not all councils provided information on the number of penalty charge notices issued over the year but there were 180,000 in Edinburgh and it is estimated there are around 700,000 issued each year across the country.
The RAC has said councils need to set out where the profits are going. Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “These numbers tell the definitive story of who is making what from public parking in Scotland.
“Not all authorities are generating a surplus but overall we are talking about big money.
“Nobody wants a parking free-for-all but when we are talking about such large sums, local authorities should be transparent with residents and drivers about what their parking policy is, why charges are set at the level they are and where the profits are going.”
Edinburgh’s transport convener, councillor Lesley Hinds, has defended the cash raised through parking: “It’s essential that we keep the city moving, and parking restrictions ensure accessibility for all road users by maintaining road safety and encouraging free flow of vehicles. Charges for permits and on-street parking are there to manage demand for limited kerbside space and any surplus income from penalties, after the cost of enforcement, go back into the transport infrastructure for the benefit of the city as a whole.”
Meanwhile in Dundee the city council has been forced to admit that a swathe of new pay-by-card parking meters, installed at a cost of almost £250,000, don’t work properly.
Motorists have been left frustrated by the failure of a network of 110 machines throughout the city centre.
A Dundee City Council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of an intermittent technical issue and we are looking for a solution. Alternative methods of payment are available at parking meters.”
Earlier this year plans to follow England’s lead and grant motorists a ten-minute grace period after their parking ticket runs out was ruled out by the Scottish Government.
A spokeswoman for national agency Transport Scotland said: “The operation of local authority car parking in Scotland is a matter for local authorities, who operate within the statutory regimes. Transport Scotland has no plans to review these regimes.”