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Is your council ripping you off over parking?

Neighbours can be charged different amounts for parking permits depending on council rules

The Government's considering a proposal for motorists to have a five-minute grace period to stop over-zealous parking enforcement. Sky's David Crabtree reports.

How much do you pay to park on the street outside your house? If it costs you nothing then you might be surprised to hear that some residents are paying hundreds of pounds just to keep their car near their front door.

Drivers can pay up to £360 a year for a residential parking permit, according to Freedom of Information requests made by Trusted Dealers. Bizarrely, the firm’s research showed that charges are a postcode lottery – with some residents of the same city paying wildly different amounts.

For example, in many parts of Birmingham it costs drivers just £16 a year to park residentially. Yet residents of the city’s Jewellery Quarter face annual charges of £210. And if that sounds bad then spare a thought for residents of the City of London, who pay a hefty £360 a year to park near their homes.

Meanwhile, Fife Council provides free permits to those living in Kirkcaldy, Kincardine, Inverkeithing, Cairneyhill and Burntisland, but charges £90 to those in St Andrews and Dunfermline. In Lancashire, people living in Clitheroe pay £40 for a residential permit, while those in Lytham pay just £5.

There’s not much to be done about keeping the price of residential parking permits down, not unless you’re happy parking further away from your front door. However, you could offset the cost of your residential permit by cutting the cost of parking elsewhere. We’ve been taking a look at how…

Use a parking app to compare prices
There are a number of smartphone apps that promise to cut what you pay for parking. Not only do they flag up nearby parking spaces when you’re out and about, but they can also locate the cheapest spaces available.

Try The AA’s parking app at £1.99 or the newly-launched and free ParkJockey if you’re in London.

Rent a cheaper parking space
If you drive into work and have to pay to park, it’s worth looking into whether or not you could lease a privately owned space for less. There are several websites that connect would-be parkers with households who have a spare space and one of the major sites claims it can be up to 70% cheaper.

Do your homework
If you’re regularly parking in a car park then have you actually checked you’re getting a good deal? For example, in Manchester, you can pay £8 a day to park in a Deansgate multi-storey, or £5 a day to park in a nearby gated area with a security guard. Say you work five days a week, 48 weeks a year that would be a saving of £720. So take a few minutes to look at alternatives and see how much you could save.

Appeal unfair parking fines
Did you know that most drivers who appeal unfair parking tickets win? According to Which?, two-thirds of drivers who appeal are successful, so it’s worth contesting an unfair charge.

You can find out more about situations where you’re entitled to contest a ticket by visiting the Traffic Penalty Tribunal website. Of course, if you’re simply in the wrong then an appeal is unlikely to get you your money back. In those cases it’s often a good idea to pay as quickly as you can, to avoid the fine growing.

Park and ride
Everyone enjoys the convenience of driving to work, but there’s nothing convenient about hellish rush-hour traffic and the stress of finding a parking space. If you work in a city then it’s worth looking into Park and Ride bus services; you could save money and you’ll potentially find it less stressful.

Be an early bird
There are probably some free parking spaces close to your office or railway station. However, free parking down side streets can fill very quickly. It’s worth considering whether leaving the house 10 minutes earlier (easier said than done, of course) could let you nab a free space and save a fortune over a year.

Can I sub-let my residents’ parking permit?
Sadly, although it’s possible to rent out off-road parking spaces on drives and in garages, you won’t be able to lease your spot on the road. Pretty much every council has rules specifically blocking residents from doing so, so that’s not a way to offset the cost.

However, if you do have an off-street spot that you want to lease out, you can find out more via sites such as ParkLet and