PARKING charges and penalties are set to make a profit of nearly £13 million across Hampshire this year.

Analysis has revealed there will be a surplus of £12.8 million after the running costs of parking activities have been taken into account.

The highest figures in the area are for Winchester and Southampton at £3.9million and £3.8 million respectively, putting them in 59th and 62nd place out of 353 councils in England.

Eastleigh and the New Forest will each have a surplus of £1.5 million, Test Valley £1 million and Fareham £865,000,

Rules dictate that all the surplus cash goes into local transport projects.

Residents parking in Southampton city centre are asked to pay £1.60 for up to one hour in short stay car parks or about £1.10 in long stay car parks.

Meanwhile, drivers parking in car parks in Winchester city centre are charged £1.40 for up to one hour or £15 for more than four hours.

Southampton City Council (SCC) said all surplus revenue from on-street parking charges, permits, season tickets and penalty charge notices is ring fenced for expenditure related to transport, highways and parking.

"Over the last four years, Southampton City Council has invested £5.3M of its on-street revenue surplus into Highways Capital schemes. Parking charges and enforcement are an important tool for ensuring public safety, to help manage congestion and encourage the turnover of vehicles so that parking spaces remain accessible for all," a SCC spokesman added.

The authority also said it has not increased parking charges in the 2018/19 financial year and stressed that as a result of reductions in funding from central government, SCC has made £136.4 million savings over the last seven year.

But Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith hit back and said: "Southampton City Council continue to claim their funding is being cut but here is yet another example of where they are raising significant amounts of revenue by stealth. In this case charging motorists far more than the they should for the service they provide."

The research was carried out by the RAC Foundation who estimate that English councils could have a surplus of more than £900 million.

A total of 278 councils said they expect a surplus with 65 saying they think they will break even or incur a loss.

The study was carried out by transport consultant David Leibling, who analysed budget figures provided by English councils to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Winchester City Council said there have been no increases in car parking charges since 2017 and charges were not raised for 2019-20.

A spokesperson for the authority added: "The increase in some central charges in 2017 was to encourage parking in outer car parks, such as the Park & Ride, in order to reduce congestion and pollution. The all-day Park & Ride charge has been held at the current £3 rate for the past eight years.Car parking income is used to deliver major maintenance and improvement works to transport, such as the Winchester Movement Strategy."

New Forest Disrrict Council said the account for the last two years has shown a deficit.

Meanwhile, councillor Nick Adams-King, planning and transport portfolio holder at Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) claims Test Valley remains one of the cheapest in the local area and prices have remained the same since April 2016.

"All our parking prices are carefully considered and in line with similar neighbouring authorities. More than 200 spaces are free for four hours in Romsey and there are free on-street parking spaces across the borough. On top of this, parking after 4pm and overnight continues to be free, while there is no charge on Sundays or bank holidays," he added.

Many of the highest totals for budgeted surpluses were seen in London, with Westminster having the largest (£72.1 million) followed by Kensington and Chelsea (£36.0 million) and Camden (£28.3 million).

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said: “Councils are on the side of motorists and shoppers. They have to strike a balance when setting parking policy, both on-street and off-street, to make sure that there are spaces available for residents, high streets are kept vibrant and traffic is kept moving.

“Councils don’t make profit on parking charges. Any income raised through on-street parking charges is spent on running parking services and any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects.”