Cut your car park costs
Heading into town for a long shopping session? Follow these tips and you won't pay through the nose for your parking!
The nation's councils are pocketing some serious cash as a result of their parking charges.
A new study by the RAC Foundation revealed that England's 359 councils are sitting on a total current account surplus of a whopping £565 million as a result of their on- and off-street parking schemes.
Below are the ten councils making the biggest profits from their parking charges. Perhaps no surprise that eight of them are found within London.
|Kensington and Chelsea||£28.1 million|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||£19.5 million|
|Brighton and Hove||£14.4 million|
Figures for 2011-12
While parking is evidently a cash cow for many councils, there are ways to cut the costs of parking your car.
Park at the station
You don’t have to travel there by train, but if the town you’re heading for has a station car park, check its charges. Many have discounted rates at weekends compared with their weekday ‘commuter’ rate. And unlike the town centre multi-storey version, it’s unlikely you’ll have to queue to get in.
I went to St. Albans last Saturday and paid just £2 for all-day parking at the main station. OK, so it was a ten minute walk to the main high street, but it saved me £8 as six hours parking in its Maltings town centre car park would have been £10.
Head for the supermarket
You don’t actually have to shop there, but if there’s one within walking distance of the town centre you can often get up to three hours of free parking. And you can always pop in and pick up a pint of milk on your way back if you feel you’re taking advantage of their goodwill.
But do be sure to check parking restrictions at each location as some outlets may have different time limits or in some cases may insist you do some shopping in the store. And keep an eye on your watch as you can get a parking ticket if you run over your time slot.
Park and ride
This may not prove practical if you just want to pop in for an hour, but it’s good value for all day trips.
With some park and ride schemes you’ll pay a small charge for parking, but get the bus ride free, while with others it’s free parking but you pay for the bus. On the downside this may not be cost effective if there’s a car load of you as depending on the bus fare charged versus car park costs it could work out cheaper taking the car as far as you can. Check Parkandride.net for details of schemes across the country.
If you’re in an area you don’t know it can be tricky to track down free spaces which are often in residential roads or on the outskirts of town. And unless you want a tour of the one way system it’s often easier to head into the nearest car park.
Take a look at Freeparkingspace.co.uk for heaps of free parking spaces across the country. Just pop in a location and it comes up with a list of options and then you can set your sat nav for the street. Most spaces are within a short walk of the main stations, shops and town centre facilities.
Rent a space
Don’t go parking in private driveways without permission, but if you book in advance you can rent one for the day through Parkatmyhouse.com. Plus you’ve much less chance of finding your car scraped by crowds of shoppers!
Parking in the John Lewis car park in Sheffield costs £10.80 for six hours on a Saturday, but a whole day’s parking booked through Parkatmyhouse.com costs £5 with a five to ten minute walk to the shops. And a central car park in Canterbury will cost you £7.50 for five hours, compared with just £4 for a private rental space.
Changes to clamping rules
Changes to the law mean wheel clamping (and towing cars away) is now banned in car parks on private land. The only caveat is if local by-laws give landowners the right to clamp or tow away vehicles which could be in areas like stations, ports or airports.
And if you get a ticket for parking on private land, (say a supermarket car park), there’s now a new independent appeals service you can take your case too. It’s funded by the British Parking Association and providing you get a ticket from a company that’s a member of the BPA approved operator scheme, then you can use its free service.