The average London borough has more than three times the number of parking attendants than a typical council area, according to research.
London boroughs typically employ 51 parking civil enforcement officers to ensure parking laws are obeyed, compared to 16 in the average council area nationwide, according to statistics obtained under a Freedom of Information Request.
Westminster has the highest number of parking attendants, with 242 people employed to enforce the parking laws, figures from LV= car insurance found. The boroughs of Islington (135) and Lambeth (99) were also high on the list of all the councils from whom information was received.
Nationwide, the number of parking attendants has gone up by almost 6% since 2008. Nearly one in five (17%) of local authorities have cut the amount of free parking in their areas over the same period of time, the figures show.
One in 10 councils have increased the number of parking attendants on duty by 20% or more and 10% of drivers have been hit with parking fines in the last 12 months. Motorists breaching parking rules forked out £340m in the last year, the equivalent of £96 per caught driver.
The number of parking attendants across the country has gone up from 3,630 in 2008 to 3,841 this year, a rise of 5.8%, according to the figures received from more than 200 UK councils.
Well over half (57%) of drivers believe parking in their nearest town or city has become more difficult since 2008, a survey of 1,583 motorists found. Just 7% of those surveyed felt it had become easier to park.
Some 18% of motorists said they had parked illegally in the last 12 months.
Local government minister Bob Neill said: “There is no excuse for town halls using parking fines and motorists as cash cows. There are plenty of other ways for councils to raise extra income or make savings like better procurement and sharing back-office services.
“We want to see councils use parking to support the high street and help their local shops prosper. That’s why we have ended the last government’s requirements to limit spaces, push up parking charges and encourage aggressive parking enforcement.”
John O’Roarke, LV=’s managing director, said: “The lack of free parking is putting increasing pressure on cash-strapped motorists and many are resorting to parking illegally.
“This problem is being exacerbated as councils increase the number of paid parking zones in their areas and take on more parking attendants to police them. Motorists who are visiting busy areas should plan ahead and consider parking slightly further away to avoid high parking charges. Many cities now offer park-and-ride schemes, which are a fraction of the cost of inner city parking.”
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