Monday, October 10, 2011

UK: The great parking rip-off

Expense: A resident's permit in Barnet, pictured, costs £100 per year

Residents are being hit by 400 per cent rises in parking charges - just to leave their cars outside their own front doors, it emerged last night. The staggering increase means some motorists are coughing up more than £100 to park on their own street. Councils are also raising millions by ramping up pay and display charges, and the price of visitor permits, above the rate of inflation, a survey revealed.

In a further sting, the hours during which drivers must pay are being extended in some areas – to include evenings, Sundays and bank holidays. More than half of local authorities have raised charges in the last year, by an average of nearly 50 per cent.

The revelations prompted fury that motorists - who are already facing huge hikes in fuel and insurance costs - are also being milked by councils. Edmund King, president of the AA, said: ‘Some local authorities are targeting drivers in an unfair manner because it disproportionately hits some people who live in a particular areas and have no choice - especially those who cannot afford a garage or driveway.

‘Raising parking charges is another attack on the motorist, who is already suffering record fuel and insurance prices - but they are an easy target.’

A survey by the Sunday Times found 57 of 96 councils surveyed had increased their charges or extended charging hours. Of the 46 which set out their higher charges, the average increase was 44 per cent.

In Barnet, North London, the cost of a visitor’s permit has risen by 300 per cent to £4 per car per day, and resident’s permits by 150 per cent from £40 to £100 per car. In Woking, Surrey, a resident’s permit now costs £50 a year, up from £10 - a 400 per cent increase. Next year Middlesbrough council will start charging residents to park on their own street for the first time, with each permit costing £20.

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