The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has criticised local authorities for exploiting motorists at the expense of saving the high street following the release of car parking charges revenue figures.

According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) research, in 2011/2012 councils saw a profit increase of 15% from the money made from car parking charges compared to the previous year. London was the greatest source of the additional revenue with Kensington profits rising 31%, generating an additional £27.5m, while Newcastle upon Tyne saw a massive 51% increase, with an additional £6.2m being taken for charges.

FPB spokesman Rob Downes said these figures show “how ignorant many councils are to the needs of their local high street”.

“The evidence is now there for all to see that many councils are using motorists as cash cows without a thought for the consequences their actions have on the wider business communities,” he said. “Crude and short-sighted money spinners like this just means more and more shoppers abandoning their local high street and looking elsewhere for their shopping needs.

“The end result will be ghost high streets with boarded up shops,” added Downes. “What we need is for councils to look at new options. Lower car parking charges, or have entire days or afternoons where it’s free.”