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10 Jan 2013

There’s never much cause to like parking charges, but news that councils in England have increased their profits from them by almost 15 percent has really got our back up. Particularly after looking at how councils are using this extra money; or rather aren’t!

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) released the figures yesterday (9 January) which shows in 2009/10, councils made £322 million from charging drivers to park. Three years later, in 2011/12, councils made a whopping £411 million – for those of you who enjoy percentages, that’s an extraordinary 27 percent increase.

The IAM has also released figures showing how overall council spending on road safety, education and safe routes to school have been cut from £127.5 million to £105 million. (That’s an 18 percent cut, percentage lovers!) And, overall revenue spend on highways and transport has decreased six percent, with capital expenditure on things like construction falling by 13 percent (and expected to fall a further 11 percent in 2012/13).

Councils are clearly squeezing drivers at both ends – the more we put in the less we see. We wish this was something new, but unfortunately it’s just the latest display of the war on the motorist.

Last week we had the unfortunate job of telling our readers that UK diesel is the most expensive in the EU. The week before was another regrettable news story on pothole-Britain. We understand “times are tough” et cetera, but motorists and the transport industry are not the Government’s cash cow.

If councils are making record profits, we think it’s only fair that that money goes back into the system from whence it came – so that means road improvements, maintenance, safety and education.

But beyond being about fairness (we’re not just moaning Myrtles), it’s the sensible thing to do. A pre-emptive road maintenance regime is cheaper in the long run; around 20 times cheaper, in fact, than reactive repairs. Plus, services such as education for young drivers, cycle training and safe routes to schools schemes are life-saving. That’s much more important than “reducing the deficit”.

At least, that’s what we believe.


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