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Which? reveals real price of parking

Survey finds city parking costs vary widely

Car park

Council car parks are usually cheaper than private ones

The cost of parking varies hugely depending on where you live, as do your chances of getting a ticket. That’s the conclusion of a new Which? survey revealing how much you could pay to park in the UK’s biggest cities.

Predictably, London’s Westminster council topped the table for charges, but Manchester, Edinburgh and Leeds were also very expensive. Parking on the street costs varied from £4.40 for an hour in London’s West End and £2.60 in Leeds and Birmingham to free in Coventry (see table for a full breakdown of the 20 cities).

Sky-high car park charges

The parking postcode lottery is even more evident when it comes to council-run car parks. After London’s Soho (a sky-high £18 for 4 hours), Manchester finishes second in the Which? hall of shame, costing £13.20 for the same period. The cheapest city surveyed was Bradford, which charged a reasonable £3.50 for 4 hours.

Edinburgh is the only city investigated not to offer any council-run car parks at all. Prices in its privately-run car parks are high, at up to £2.50 for one hour’s car parking or £8.90 for four hours.

Parking costs in the UK’s top 20 most populated cities
City council One hour, on-street One hour, car park Four hours, car park
London (Westminster) £4.40 £5.50 £18
Manchester £2.20 £3.30 £13.20
Edinburgh £2.00 £2.50 £8.90
Leeds £2.60 £2.00 £7.80
Nottingham £1.40 £3.10 £6.00
Liverpool £2.00 £1.70 £6.80
Glasgow £2.40 £1.00 £6.00
Sheffield £1.60 £1.50 £6.00
Stoke £2.20 £1.30 £5.20
Bristol £2.00 £1.60 £5.20
Cardiff £1.50 £3.00 £4.00
Coventry £0 £3.00 £5.00
Birmingham £2.60 £1.00 £4.30
Southampton £2.00 £1.40 £4.20
Plymouth £1.00 £1.20 £4.80
Leicester £1.70 £1.40 £4.10
Hull £1.30 £1.00 £4.10
Wolverhampton £1.50 80p £4.00
Belfast £1.00 £1.00 £4.00
Bradford 70p 80p £3.50

London also top for tickets

It’s a similarly muddled picture when it comes to parking tickets. More than eight million parking tickets are issued every year in the UK, and nearly half come from local authorities in London. Westminster handed out more tickets than any other council in the survey but over 19,000 people (87%) won their appeal against the fine in 2008-2009 – the most recent year that figures for the whole UK are available. 

We think a large number of successful appeals suggests a large number of tickets weren’t issued correctly. However, Westminster says this is “not a direct reflection of wrongly issued tickets. In many cases evidence is later supplied by the motorist to show that an exemption applied.”

Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive, Which?, says: “Parking charges vary enormously up and down the country and people want to be clear about where they can park and how much it will cost them. But if there’s one thing drivers hate more than paying high prices for parking, it’s finding a parking ticket on their windscreen. If you think you’ve been unfairly ticketed, make sure you appeal.”

We advise drivers to check information about on-street and car park charges on councils’ websites before a journey. And remember: it’s usually cheaper to park in a council car park than a private one. 

If you think you’ve been wrongly issued a parking ticket then appeal. Read our parking advice and get example appeal letters here

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Get more from Which? Car

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