Parking charges not disguised revenue raising

Posted: 30th April 2015

car parkVehicle parking in inner cities can be a source of fierce controversy, not least due to its potential impact on property values. However, in one High Court case, a London borough has fought off claims that an increase in its parking charges was motivated by an illegitimate desire to boost its budget.

A campaigner argued that changes to the residents parking regime in the London Borough of Camden were part of a disguised revenue raising exercise. In a judicial review challenge, he pointed out that the increases would put almost £1.5 million extra into the council’s coffers annually.

The council agreed that, if it had really been motivated by money, that would be an 'illegitimate purpose' and the increases would be unlawful. but the Court found that revenue raising was ‘not the driver’ behind the increases.

Camden’s population was projected to increase by 17 per cent in 20 years and there were concerns about pollution and the economic consequences of traffic congestion. It was also clear that demand for parking in Camden far outstripped the supply of available kerb space.

The changes in the regime included higher resident parking tariffs for vehicles with larger or dirtier engines, bigger bills for those with second or third vehicles, and a flat rate of 90 pence per hour for visitor permits. However, the Court found that the there was no obligation on the council to keep the changes ‘revenue neutral’