Parking charges must be "reasonable", local government minister Brandon Lewis said today, after campaigners won a landmark High Court case against increased charges in Barnet.
Mr Lewis said:
This Government has been very clear that parking charges are not, and should not be, a town hall stealth tax on local residents.
We have scrapped the Labour government's guidance which pressured councils to hike up parking charges. Indeed, making sure that car parking charges are reasonable is an important way in which councils can help support their local high streets and local shops.
The AA has been warning authorities of councils increasing parking charges, the head of public affairs said today, after campaigners won a landmark High Court victory against Barnet council.
Paul Watters said: "Some authorities have been saying they cannot fix the potholes or clear ice from the roads unless CPZs are extended and prices increased.
"This is in effect holding residents and drivers to ransom. That is totally unacceptable.
"This case must be a warning to other local authorities that try to profit from ramped up charges, unnecessary extended controlled zones, use CCTV for mass ticketing or argue the case for increased levels of penalty when there is already sufficient deterrent.
"Of course, we need to secure adequate funding for council services, but this is not the way."
Barnet council leader, Richard Cornelius has conceded that an increase in parking charges had been carried out "too abruptly and rather charmlessly", but said there would be an appeal.
Mr Cornelius said:
Both our pricing and spending are very much in line with other London boroughs and I very much believe that our spending of the income from our parking account on items such as road maintenance and transport services is entirely within the scope of the special parking account under the Road Traffic Act.
With that in mind I don't think we have any alternative but to look to appeal this decision.
That said it is fairly clear that the council raised the price of parking permits, after five years of a price freeze, too abruptly and rather charmlessly. I will make sure that doesn't happen again.
Campaigners objecting increased parking charges said that the increases had made parking in Barnet's quiet residential streets "more expensive than parking outside Harrods" after their victory in the High Court today.
Mr Attfield said after: "Barnet Council has been caught picking the pockets of CPZ residents.
"Despite making up less than 10% of the borough, they were being made to contribute disproportionately to a range of services such as road repairs and the provision of bus passes across the borough.
"Today's judgment confirms what I have maintained all along: that Parliament never intended local authorities to take a large cut every time a book club meets, mums get together for coffee or a washing machine is repaired.
"It is regrettable that Barnet has spent over two years, and tens of thousands of pounds, standing by their charges which they should have known were legally and morally wrong."
Parking campaigners from the London borough of Barnet have won the quashing of the local council's decision to dramatically increase parking charges in April 2011.
The judge rejected arguments put forward by Barnet council lawyers that it had powers under section 45 of the 1984 Act to raise a surplus from parking charges for transport functions.
There were no parking charges in David Attfield's quiet residential road, who brought the lead case, until the controlled parking zone (CPZ) was first introduced in 2001 to prevent tube commuters parking in local streets.
The cost of a permit for a first car was initially £20 and visitor vouchers cost 35p each.
The charges were increased in 2006.
In 2011 that they leapt for a first car from £40 to £100.
Visitors' vouchers increased from £1 to £4 - among the highest CPZ charges in London.