City centre traders and shoppers reacted angrily after it was revelaed Bradford Council is forecast to make a £5.3 million-plus profit from car parking charges and fines in 2013/14 – up by more than £3m in a year, new figures show.

The predicted rise – the fifth biggest among local authorities in England – comes as a Cabinet Minister warned traders and shoppers were suffering because of sky-high parking fees.

Eric Pickles tore into councils – including Bradford – that will enjoy huge “profits” from charges and fines this year.

The Local Government Secretary released the figures that reveal that Bradford expects to receive a staggering £5,387,000 in 2013/14, after costs.

That would mean an increase of £3,255,000 on the Council’s surplus of £2,132,000 in 2012/13.

Now Mr Pickles, a former leader of Bradford Council, has vowed to crack down on “unfair town hall parking rules”, saying: “The law is clear that parking is not a tax or cash cow for town hall officers.”

But the Council hit back immediately, insisting any surplus was spent in ways that helped improve transport for everyone in Bradford.

Councillor Andrew Thornton, executive member for the environment, also said revenues were rising because charges were more widespread – not because they had gone up.

He said: “We have not increased parking charges since 2011, although we have introduced charges in more places.

“It is still £4 to park all day in a Council car park in Bradford city centre and £3.50 a day in Shipley, Bingley and Keighley, which is cheaper than in many other districts.

“Money generated from car parking is ploughed back into highway improvements and maintenance once the service costs have been covered.


“Parking restrictions, charges, fines and cameras make our roads much safer for motorists and pedestrians and help to minimise congestion.”

Mike Cartwright, of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said: “Where is that increase in income coming from? Is it higher charges or better identification and tracing of offenders? Or both? Rightly or wrongly, parking charges are still widely viewed as a cash cow for Councils but we know it’s more complicated than that.

“We feel that all income should be re-directed back into parking and transport generally to improve services and facilities wherever possible. Transport and congestion remain serious concerns for many of our businesses and, while income from parking charges is not going to solve the problem, it’s a related issue.

“We’re frequently told of broken or out-of-use ticket machines – several on the same street, sometimes – and that grates with people and can lead to the view that the income isn’t ring-fenced.”

A 40-year-old shopkeeper in Bradford city centre, who did not want to be named, suggested the Council dusts off the Westfield site’s car park and charge a £1 a day for cars to use it.

He said: “There’s 1,300 car-parking spaces down there not doing anything.”

He added: “I refuse to bring my car into town because it is too expensive to park. I have also seen people get fined even though they have already paid for a ticket.

“But it doesn’t matter what we say or do, Bradford Council will not listen.”

Kirklees (up £652,000) and Calderdale (up £489,000) are also predicting soaring net income from charges and fines this year.

In Leeds, the surplus is expected to fall – by £225,000 – but the city council still expects to scoop £6,340,000 in 2013/14.

Across the county, it is expected that town halls will gain £16.4m, which would be up £4.171m on last year’s £12.229m.

The figures are the total income from all parking charges and fines, minus the cost of administering the service and of parking patrols.

Mr Pickles seized on a projected rise of £635m across England, saying: “This municipal parking profit shows why we need to review and rein in unfair town hall parking rules.

“This Government has scrapped the last administration’s Whitehall rules, which told councils to hike up parking charges and adopt aggressive parking enforcement. But councils aren’t listening – and local shops and hard-working families are suffering as a result.”