PARKING charges and fines raked in almost £27 million for a council last year.

Brighton and Hove City Council brought in £11.4 million from charges and £5.8 million in fines between March 2018 and March 2019.

In total £26.9 million was raised, £3 million more than the year before.

Most of this total has been spent on parking enforcement and cheaper bus fares.

But that has left a surplus of £2.2 million, which Conservative councillor Lee Wares said should be spent on lowering parking charges.

Transport spokesman Cllr Wares said: “I know there will be some that will credibly argue the money is needed to fix roads and upgrade the transport infrastructure.

“However, there must come a point where we need to seriously consider investing back into lowering some permit charges.

“Over the years the council has steadily increased revenue from parking and last year made a huge surplus.

“I suspect this year will end up being even more.”

Cllr Wares suggested parking permit prices should be lowered for traders.

“Why are we not looking at lowering trader and business permits?” he said.

“It will make a difference to our internal economy and help not just traders and businesses but our citizens who end up with the passed-on costs.

“Why are we not looking at reducing permit costs for carers, doctors and teachers?

“If the administration finds that unpalatable, why are we not looking at reducing permit costs for electric and low emission vehicles as an incentive for people to switch over.”

But a Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said the remaining £2.2 million can only be spent on “transport-related work”.

This means roads, air quality and environmental improvements.

“All our parking fees and charges are reviewed annually,” he said.

“Councillors set these, and also decide how any surplus should be spent, through the relevant committees.

“All our parking fees and charges are reviewed annually.

“With regard to parking fees and charges these are our environment, transport and sustainability committee and our next annual budget council in February 2020.”

The spokesman said parking fees were mainly set to manage demand and reduce driving time for residents.

He said: “The £27 million figure is the total amount of money that comes from the council from parking operations.

“Out of this we have to pay the direct costs of running our parking services, including enforcement.

“The surplus available to spend on other things after these direct costs is £16.7 million.

“All but £2.2 million of this surplus is spent on concessionary bus fares, which we have a legal duty to pay for, and supported bus services and borrowing costs.”

According to the city council, income from parking charges funds 42,356 free bus passes for the elderly and disabled.

Surplus income rose by ten per cent year on year for the council.