Tories Accused Over 'Unfair' Council Parking Charges

Conservative-run councils rake in far more from parking charges than town halls under Labour, according to research published by the opposition.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has vowed to expose what he calls a "great council cash-cow cover-up" by forcing authorities to publish parking revenue.

Parking charges raise millions for local councils

He recently described it as a "shopping tax" hitting high streets and accused councils of waging a "local war against motorists".

But Labour said that it was Mr Pickles's own party colleagues who were most guilty, charging the equivalent of nearly £43 per local household each year.

Responses from 226 authorities to a freedom of information request showed the figure for Labour-run councils was £29.69, the lowest.

The average was £37.49, with those under Liberal Democrat control bringing in £39.08 and hung councils £34.41.

Of the councils which responded, 116 were Tory, 69 Labour and seven Lib Dem.

Shadow local government secretary Hilary Benn said: "This survey shows that Tory councils are imposing much higher charges when families up and down the country are seeing their incomes squeezed.

"It's unfair, it's damaging local high streets and small businesses, and we hope Eric Pickles, the Tory secretary of state for Local Government, will tell his councils to stop behaving in this way."

Local government minister Brandon Lewis said: "Hilary Benn is a grade A hypocrite. He has failed to condemn his own Labour council which is hiking parking charges.

"It was the Labour government that cynically targeted motorists, actively encouraging councils to increase parking charges.

"The coalition has ripped up John Prescott's planning guidance that told councils to hike parking charges to discourage drivers and we have ditched Labour's policy of restricting the number of parking spaces.

"These figures give a partial and skewed picture failing to account for the different costs in different parts of the country."