Southend Council made more than £5million profit on parking charges last year, a new report has revealed.

The borough ranked as 44 in the top 50 local authorities to generate a surplus from parking charges between the end of March 2018 and the beginning of April 2019.

The data has been revealed in a report from the RAC Foundation which shows that there has been a 48 per cent increase in income from the charges in the past five years.

A separate council report shows, in the same 12-month period, a total of 47,265 penalty charges were handed to motorists and nearly a quarter (24.7 per cent) of those were handed to people parking on double yellow lines.

Motorists parking on shared bays without a permit made up 14 per cent of the total, while those parking without paying a charge make up another 13.9 per cent.

The figures include drivers caught parking on the streets, as well as those caught parking off-street in car parks.

They also show the five most common places to be caught are all within less than a two-mile radius and located close to the seafront.

They are: 

  • Western Esplanade, 1,321​ fines;
  • University Square Car Park, 1,134 fines;
  • Westcliff Parade, 1,133 fines;
  • Hamlet Court Road, 1,132 fines; and
  • Tylers Avenue Car Park, 871 fines.

Councillor Ron Woodley, who oversees transport, said that the income received through the parking fines is invested into highways works and road resurfacing programmes.

He said: “We have spent around £630,000 more on filling potholes than what was in the budget because I do believe in making roads safer. We are looking after motorists and putting the money back into the town.

“This year, between 2019 and 2020, we are also expecting to undershoot our expected income from parking by £450,000, which shows people are parking more positively and carefully.”

The parking figures have been revealed as the council looks to make major changes to the way residents pay for parking in the borough, including the possible introduction of a scheme that will allow residents to pay around £7 a month to park for three hours anywhere in Southend.

Mr Woodley said he believes that at times people park illegally due to “frustration” and that can range from not having the correct change to being uncertain of how to use the Mobon app which allows people to pay for parking using their phones.

“If we can get the parking strategy right and make it easier for people to park we can reduce the number of fines.

"As an authority, any authority in the country, shouldn’t be reliant on fines as income it should be treated as extra that we then spend in addition to what we have budgeted.”

Which motorists are most likely to face fines?

Motorists who drive a black Ford have statistically the highest chance of being hit with a parking fine in Southend while anyone driving multi-coloured Cadillac could be safe.

In total the number of Ford vehicles to be handed penalty charge notices in the past year is 9,613 – the highest of all vehicles makes in the country.

Vauxhall comes in second place with 4,513, followed by Mercedes with 3,245, BMWs at 3,162 and Volkswagen at 3,086.

The high numbers are likely to be due to the prevalence of these vehicle types in the borough, but high-end vehicles have also been faced fines, including 197 Porches, 78 Bentleys and 12 Aston Martins.

Just a single fine was handed out to the owners of a Cadillac, a McClaren and a Rolls Royce.

Figures also show that black cars are the most fined with 11,694 charges, followed by silver with 8,562. The least fined colour is multi-coloured with just 13 fines and pink with just 35.

Larissa Reed, executive director for neighbourhoods and environment at Southend Council, said: “As a large and popular tourist destination, with a wealth of attractions and reasons to visit, it is important that parking restrictions are in place and enforced both properly and fairly for visitors and residents alike.

“Parking enforcement is always a controversial topic, but it is important to help ensure road safety, discourage dangerous parking and help maintain traffic flow and availability of spaces across the Borough. 

"If anyone feels they have received a ticket incorrectly, there is a well-established appeals process in place to challenge.

“In terms of income, if a yearly surplus is made across parking, then this is put back into highways works and road resurfacing programmes, in-line with the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

"Many of the places named in the RAC report are also cities and seaside resorts, and it is important to stress that our parking fees are in-line or below many other seaside locations.”