PARKING fines cost the average Hounslow resident more than £34 a year, according to statistics published this week.
Hounslow Council raked in £5,556,157 by dishing out tickets to motorists during the last financial year, according to figures obtained by campaign group the Tax Payers' Alliance (TPA).
That's a rise of nearly six per cent from the previous year and equates to £34.08 per member of the 'day time population' - nearly six times the national average of £6.14.
The increase comes despite total income from parking fines falling by more than a seventh to £328m over the last year, possibly due to drivers taking more care during the recession.
Jennifer Dunn policy analyst with the TPA and fellow campaign group the Drivers' Alliance, accused council chiefs of treating motorists like 'cash cows'.
"For many councils parking fines have become a lucrative source of income," she said. "But while revenues are being made at the cost of the motorist, taxpayers haven’t seen their council tax fall, or their local services improve. Motorists are being treated like cash cows, but the only people that appear to be benefiting are wardens and their bosses."
Hounslow's average income from parking fines per day time resident was significantly higher than in the neighbouring boroughs of Hillingdon (£8.80), Ealing (£26) and Richmond (£32.21), but well below that of Hammersmith & Fulham (£47.38). Kensington & Chelsea had the highest average, at £85.29 a head.
Alex Henney, general secretary of the London Motorists Action Group, claimed some councils were trying to boost income from parking fines in a bid to keep council tax down. "What's clear is that London boroughs have the highest charges and quite a number of them are tax-farming," he added.
According to the TPA, any money generated from parking enforcement is ring-fenced and must be spent on improving local transport and the environment. However, councils rated as 'four star' by the Audit Commission can spend the cash as they choose.
Hounslow Council improved from three to four stars in this year's Comprehensive Performance Assessment by the Audit Commission.