MILTON Keynes Council pocketed a mammoth £6.5 million in parking charges last year, making it the fifth highest earner in the country.
Council chiefs are hailing the status as proof of the city’s success, claiming it shows how many motorists visit thecentre:mk.
And they still insist that the shopping centre’s £1.20 per hour premium and 30p per hour standard rates are among the cheapest in the UK.
But this week’s figures, published by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, show a striking difference between MK and Sheffield, home of the equally popular Meadow Hall shopping centre.
Sheffield Council, which caters for a population almost twice the size of Milton Keynes, collected £249,000 in parking charges – far less than half the amount.
Milton Keynes’ parking revenue increased by 9.3 per cent in the past year. The only four councils showing more money were Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Camden and Brighton, and Hove.
Nationally, parking revenue has increased by 27 per cent in the past year, but overall spending in highways and transport has reduced by six per cent while capital expenditure on construction and materials has dropped by an estimated 13 per cent.
IAM spokesman Simon Best said: “Councils are making record-breaking profits from parking, while cutting road safety spending on life-saving services.”
A spokesman for Milton Keynes Council said: “Although we are among the biggest earners, we have significantly more spaces across the city centre than cities of a comparable size. This means our income per space is towards the lower end of the spectrum.
“Milton Keynes is a major destination shopping centre and our prices remain some of the best value in the region with more than 8,926 spaces at 30p an hour.
“We also offer significant discount to drivers of low emission vehicles and those who car share. Employees in Central Milton Keynes also benefit from a 50 per cent discount. We also have 1,958 spaces free of charge and all parking – 20,848 spaces – after 6pm is free.”
The spokesman said all surplus income from car parking is reinvested in public transport and highway schemes to benefit the travelling public.
He said the council also has plans to invest £50m in the road network over the coming years.