LOCAL authorities across the UK continue to make a financial killing from parking charges.

In 2012-13 councils generated a combined ‘profit’ of £594m from their day to day, on and off street parking operations - a 5% increase on the 2011-12 figure of £565m.

Over the past four years, Wirral Council has seen a steady drop in the amount raised from parking charges and penalties.

From £1.478m collected in 2009-10 the council ‘profits’ have dipped to £851,000 in 2012-13 ranking Wirral 157th of England’s 353 local authorities in terms of surplus.

Overall, councils collect around £1.4bn from parking tickets, permits and penalties. They spend around £0.8bn and make a surplus of £0.6bn according to a report commissioned by the RAC Foundation.

The report indicates that there is evidence of a decline in the number of penalty charges as motorists become more aware of the rules and are more careful to park legally.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “It is a case of déjà vu. Once again English councils have made record amounts from parking.

Yet overall spending on local roads has fallen by 9% over the past three years with road safety expenditure down by as much as 20%.

“The government’s recent decision to consult on changes to parking rules and regulations is timely and we have always argued that at the very least all councils should publish an annual parking report to explain how much money is collected from drivers and, just as importantly, where that cash is going.

“It might be that some of the extra ‘profit’ has arisen because councils’ costs for running parking services have been reduced but drivers need to know this.

“There’s no disputing the figures we have looked at.

"They are the numbers the councils themselves submit to central government. What’s more, council budgets show that the surplus for the current year is set to be higher still.”

The authority with the largest surplus in 2012-13 was Westminster with £39.7m.

The four biggest earners were all London authorities with only Brighton, Nottingham and Manchester breaking into a top ten dominated by councils in the capital.