SWINDON Council has been accused of making more than £7m profits from its car parking services in the past three years, according to new figures given by a research organisation.

A study, carried out by RAC Foundation, found Swindon Council made a surplus of £1,931,000 in 2011 to 2012. This is in addition to £2,195,000 raised the year before and £2,958,000 between 2010 and 2011.

Over the last three years neighbouring county Oxfordshire made a profit of about £400,000 and Stroud collected approximately £450,000.

Typically, city councils in England made the most out of car parking services with Bath and North East Somerset Council banking more than £17m in three years.

The huge sums being made by local authorities’ parking services were revealed just days after a judge declared that Barnet Council had acted illegally in trying to set charges to raise general revenue, rather than as part of its traffic management plan.

Coun Keith Williams, cabinet member for highways strategic transport and leisure, said the council was in step with other authorities across England.

“I don’t think we are out of step with other councils,” said Coun Williams. “There has been a drop in our charges to help local businesses. Money raised from car parks does go back into road schemes. But we do not make enough to cover the highway’s budget, more money is still required which we get from capital borrowing.”

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “For many local authorities, parking charges are a nice little earner.

“But the bottom line is that hundreds of millions of pounds are being contributed annually to council coffers through parking charges and the drivers who are paying them have a reasonable expectation to see the cash spent on improving the roads.

“In fact it is enshrined in law – as underlined by the Barnet case last week – that profits gained from on-street charges and penalties must be ploughed back into a very limited number of things including maintaining roads.”