A group of campaigners are trying to encourage local councils to open their staff car parks on weekends to boost trade for local shops. Almost two thirds of those questioned by the Federation of Small Businesses say a lack of parking is harming trade. Robyn Dwyer has the story.
A property maintenance company has hired a group of 'van sitters' to save it from hundreds of pounds in parking fines.
Aspect, based in Earlsfield, has employed 25 people at £8 per hour to drive its vans around the capital so that workmen can visit clients without having to find a parking space.
Drivers wait in the vans and drive around the block if they see a warden approaching.
The company says the idea's been so successful, it now wants to offer it to other residents and businesses.
Managing director Will Davies said:
“Our tradesmen used to spend up to an hour trying to find a parking space and some of them were running up £500 in fines every year. We now have around 25 van-sitters but could employ up to 90.”
Mr Davies says the drivers will be eligible to apply for apprenticeships with the company.
The organisation "London Councils" - which represents the boroughs - says charges are determined by the demand for parking spaces.
But critics claim they just add to the burden on already hard-pressed Londoners.
Our Political Correspondent Simon Harris reports:
While many councils are enjoying increased profits from parking, they are spending less elsewhere in the community. The Institute of Advanced Motorists - who collated councils' parking profits - calculate that:
Spending on road safety, education and safe routes to schools fell by 18% to £105m.
Spending on highways and transport fell by 6% between 2010/11 and 2011/12, while expenditure on construction, reduced by an estimated 13%.
A Department for Communities and Local Government report last year estimated that spending on highways and transport will fall by a further 11% over 2012/133.
IAM Chief Executive Simon Best said:
“Councils are making record-breaking profits from parking, while cutting road safety spending on life-saving services such as, education for young drivers, cycle training, and safe routes to schools schemes.
“At the same time cuts to road maintenance will mean a backlog of repairs which will simply cost more to fix in the long term.”
The largest increase in profit from parking came from Kingston-Upon Thames, which saw an enormous increase of 320% from 2010/11 - 2011/12.
The council earned £3.53 million last year.
The figures, collated by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, cover both on and off-street parking, including fines and other charges.
Havering saw the second biggest increase - their profits shot up 186%, to £567,000.
And Barking and Dagenham's parking pot was boosted 174%, to £1.57 million.
Westminster Council topped the list making nearly £38 million on parking after expenditure last year. The figure is an annual increase of nearly 9%.
Second highest was Kensington and Chelsea which made £27.5 million - representing a 30% increase on the year before.
Camden was third, earning £25 million in profit from motorists - up 18% on the previous year.
Shopkeepers in Enfield are calling for a Sunday parking charge scheme to be scrapped, saying it is having a detrimental impact on trade. The Council says the scheme is not aimed at raising money, but reducing congestion in the town centre. Paul Brand reports.
Shopkeepers in Enfield are calling for Sunday parking charges to be scrapped, claiming they're a threat to their trade. The Council says the charges were introduced in January to reduce congestion in the town centre and not just to raise money.