Parking chiefs in Brighton and Hove have pocketed more than £16 million in the last year - the most of any authority outside London.

New figures show Brighton and Hove City Council raised £16.3 million through parking charges in 2012/13 - nearly twice the amount of cities such as Manchester and the London borough of Islington.

While critics say it is time for the charges to be reduced, the local authority claim the increase is down to “operational savings” with all money made ploughed back to improve city transport.

They added all charges would be frozen for 2014/15 under current proposals.

Green councillor Ian Davey, the council's lead member for transport, said: “The council does not make a profit from parking, nor do we set out to make a surplus.

“Our policy on parking is reflected in our sustainable transport programme which aims to tackle poor air quality, keep the city moving, manage parking availability and improve road safety.”

The £16.3 million figure for 2012/13, produced by the RAC, was calculated by adding money made from parking charges and penalty notices before deducting running costs.

The figure is an increase on £14.4 million in 2011/12, £12.7 million in 2010/11 and £11.7 million in 2009/10.

Westminster topped the parking profits table this year with £39.7 million followed by the neighbouring London boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea (£30.4 million), Camden (£23.5 million) and Hammersmith and Fulham (£19.3 million).

Brighton and Hove, which was next on the list, was also the only one of the top five to see an increase in profits this year.

Steve Percy, of city-based motoring lobby group People's Parking Protest, said it was time the charges were cut.

He said: “If they are making that much profit then they should give something back to the motorists.

“They say it isn't profit - but it clearly is. It doesn't matter what you do with it, it's still profit.

“The Green Party said their aim was to reduce the number of cars on the city's roads. If this figure is increasing year on year then they are clearly failing.”

Coun Davey told The Argus this year's surplus was down to operational savings of more than £1 million as well as an increased number of controlled parking spaces and three new residents' parking schemes.

He added: “Our surplus is ploughed back into improving transportation in the city.

“We have invested £4.3 million to improve car parks over the last three years, increased investment in transport infrastructure and developed a number of transport schemes that benefit drivers as well as other road users.”