PARKING services cost Bracknell Council thousands of pounds last year, figures reveal.

But with most local authorities across England profiting from parking-related charges services, the AA says many see drivers as a “wallet on wheels”, and has accused some of using parking fees to plug budget gaps.

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Parking services in Bracknell cost £18,000 in 2018-19, according to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data.

This was 74 per cent less than the figure for the previous year, when it lost £70,000.

All the losses incurred by the council last year came from on-street parking.

The trend in Bracknell Forest bucks that across England, where profits from parking services hit a record high of £936 million last year.

This was an increase of £63 million from the previous year.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “When it comes to parking charges, many councils see drivers as wallets on wheels.

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“At a time when budgets are stretched, raking in parking fees seems to be a tool used to try and fill the councils’ coffers.

“Some of the incomes are eyewatering, so drivers want to see that cash reinvested in local roads to eliminate potholes and poor road markings.”

Transport research charity the RAC Foundation said profits could be overstated in some areas, as costs such as interest payments are not included.

But Steve Gooding, the foundation’s director, said: “What will surprise drivers is that even as parking income soars, the amount of money being spent on routine road maintenance by councils has been in reverse.”

David Renard, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said councils were on the side of motorists and shoppers, and that parking policies aim to make sure there are spaces available for residents, high streets are kept vibrant and traffic is kept moving.

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He added: “Any income raised through on-street parking charges and fines is spent on running parking services, and any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as filling potholes, supporting concessionary bus fares to help reduce congestion and other local transport projects that benefit high streets and local economies.”

The council with the highest profit last year was Westminster, which made £69 million from parking charges.

But in Buckinghamshire, parking services cost the council £2.9 million – the biggest loss for any council.