English councils raked in an additional £54m from parking enforcement in 2011/12 than the previous year, new figures published by the RAC Foundation show.
In total, English councils amassed a surplus of £565m from on and off street parking charges and penalties, up from £511 m in 2010-11, the transport policy and research organisation said.
The data comes from the annual returns that councils make to the Department for Communities and Local Government.
London councils dominated the top 10 list of those with the biggest surpluses, with Westminster Council leading the way with a £41.6m profit, closely followed by Kensington & Chelsea and Camden.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “For many local authorities, parking charges are a nice little earner, especially in the capital.”
The figures were revealed just days after a judge declared that Barnet Council had acted illegally in trying to set charges to raise general revenue, rather than as part of its traffic management plan.
A recent ACS survey on parking revealed that 60% of convenience store retailers don’t believe that councils consider the impact of their parking and highways policies on local shops.
Premier retailer Dan Cock, whose store in Holsworthy borders Cornwall, which also made it into the top 10 list of biggest surpluses, said councils were blind to the impact of parking enforcement on trade. “Increasing parking charges and enforcement activity is killing high street trade at a time when it is most needed,” he added.
Earlier this week communities secretary Eric Pickles suggested that proposals to allow a 15-minute grace period to allow motorists to park on double yellow lines could be put forward in a bid to rejuvenate flagging high streets.