AN MP has called on Hounslow council to do more to support local businesses after figures showed it is in the top 10 nationally for parking profits.
Hounslow has the UK's 10th highest current account surplus for parking charges and fines, at £7.3 million for 2011/12, according to a survey by the RAC Foundation.
Brentford & Isleworth MP Mary Macleod believes the money should be ploughed back into creating a HounslowCard, like that in neighbouring Richmond, allowing residents 30 minutes' free parking anywhere in the borough.
She claims the electronic card, which could also be used to pay for parking, would provide a much-needed boost for struggling small businesses.
"We should be using money from parking to support our small businesses and make it easier for local residents to shop locally,” she said.
Ms Macleod also questioned why the council needed to make money from parking when it had secured £350m in government funding towards its 25-year, £800m Hounslow Highways scheme to improve streets across the borough.
Any money generated from parking enforcement must legally be pumped back into improving transport in the borough, from fixing roads to improving public transport links.
Although Hounslow made a net profit of £7.3m in 2011/12, when the cost of concessionary fares for younger, older and disabled passengers is taken into account, this equated to a loss of £542,000.
Hounslow's parking surplus has risen by 43 per cent since 2009/10, when it stood at £5.1m, but it is still well below that of Westminster, which tops the list at £41.6m.
The figures only take into account 'current' spending and not 'capital' expenditure on long-term investments.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "For many local authorities, parking charges are a nice little earner, especially in the capital."
Hounslow this year teamed up with Ealing and Brent councils to sign a five-year contract with Serco to manage parking services across all three boroughs, which it claimed would help reduce costs.
Unions in Hounslow had warned that privatising parking enforcement could lead to traffic wardens being put under pressure to issue more tickets.