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Councils charging fees for parking solely to make a profit "is a misconception" as any money generated has to go back into the community, a Local Government Association spokesman told Good Morning Britain.
Any parking charges handed out on the street had to be spent on road and pavement upkeep and money collected in car parks "is used on essential services".
High parking charges and "unfair" fines drive away motorists and "undermine local high streets", a government minister has said.
Communities minister Penny Mordaunt criticised local councils for raising parking prices and urged councils to do more to support their high streets:
Some 22% of drivers have had to start paying for a parking spot that was once free, a survey from a national car insurer has found.
According to the RAC:
- Some 24% said traffic wardens were now more active in their area.
- In addition, 41% of motorists believed that the local authority where they lived used the revenue from parking charges to subsidise other areas of non-motoring expenditure.
- A total 65% of motorists reported even when they finally find a space to park, it was too small for today's breed of cars, many of which are wider than previous generations of vehicle because of the addition of side-impact protection features.
Motorists are feeling the pinch on the cost of parking, with four out of five drivers reporting price hikes in town and cities, the RAC has found.
The car insurer said 67% of the 1,526 drivers it spoke to believed parking was more sparse in their home town or city centre and restrictions had tightened.
Drivers pointed to parking charges pushing up the cost of a trip to town.
The RAC added London motorists, in particular, had "felt the pain" of increased parking costs, with 59% finding high street parking was hitting their pocket more.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: "Councils should be compelled to report where the money raised from parking goes - giving drivers assurance that it is being ploughed back into road and transport improvements, rather than just plugging budget holes elsewhere."