Ref. Attfield v London Borough of Barnet  EWHC 208
In the High Court, Mrs Justice Lang has ruled that it was illegal for a Local Authority to be able to make a pre-planned financial surplus from parking permits.
The Judge ruled that the council had misinterpreted the law when it budgeted for a surplus “at any level which it considered appropriate in order to generate income for other transport purposes which it wished to fund.”
The Judge found that Barnet Council had acted illegally in raising the costs of residents’ parking permits in this way.
Barnet had quadrupled the 2011 visitors permit and forced a 2.5 times increase in residents permits. In Barnet, some 10% of parking is controlled in this way.
The Leader of Barnet Council confirmed that Barnet Council would appeal the ruling, which would be of course at the Taxpayer’s expense.
Implications if the ruling is upheld following any appeal:
Councils would only be able to charge the true cost of administration and operating a restricted residents parking scheme. In some areas, the costs of parking may therefore come down.
Statistics recently compiled by the Department for Communities and Local Government have shown that councils in England are on course to make a £635m profit this year on parking charges and fines – a £35m yearly increase – which many are calling excessive. This case may assist in bringing this figure down.
This may increase property values and saleability as it would protect reasonable parking rates to certain locations. On street parking is, of course, a substantial consideration for those looking to move to the inner city.
Councils, however, may have to raise revenue by other means.
Barnet council taxpayers as a whole will be worse off. They will have the extra costs of the court case as well as having to collectively either replace the funds through other means or by the sale of local capital assets until the extra revenues can be raised or cutbacks made.
If not upheld:
Councils will be able to continue to use the system as increasing revenue for other schemes – at the expense of road users.
Coinciding with this decision, the Department for Communities and Local Government has indicated that they will be releasing new guidance that deters local authorities from slapping a tax on residents that rent out their driveways.
The trend has become more popular in recent months, with some making up to £5,000 extra revenue a year from renting their drive space. Whilst having the benefits of reducing costs to commuters and taking cars away from street parking, local councils have nevertheless required in many cases a planning ‘change of use’ – failure to comply with which can result in a £20,000 fine.
Eric Pickles wishes to stop the actions of councils, aggrieved to be missing out on parking revenue and fines, and encourage the trend. You can read about this and other ways of boosting your income by maximising your house’s potential here.
31/07/2013 SRJ / LCB