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Council parking attendants up 5.8%

Councils have increased their number of parking attendants by nearly 6% since 2008.

At the same time, 17% of local authorities have reduced the amount of free parking in their areas, figures from LV car insurance showed. The statistics, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, showed that 10% of councils have increased the number of parking attendants on duty by 20% or more.

In the past 12 months, 10% of drivers have been hit with parking fines, with offenders forking out £340 million- the equivalent to £96 per caught driver.

Based on figures received from more than 200 UK councils, the statistics showed that the number of parking attendants has risen from 3,630 in 2008 to 3,841 in 2012 - a 5.8% rise. In average council area, there are now 16 parking civil enforcement officers employed to enforce parking traffic and other laws, with this figure rising to 51 for London boroughs.

Of the councils from whom information was received, Westminster had the highest number of parking attendants (242), followed by Islington in north London (135), Edinburgh (121) and Lambeth in south London (99).

LV also published the results of a survey of 1,583 drivers which showed that 57% reckoned parking in their nearest town or city had become more difficult since 2008, with only 7% believing it had become easier. As many as 18% of drivers admitted to parking illegally in the last year.

LV managing director John O'Roarke said: "The lack of free parking is putting increasing pressure on cash-strapped motorists and many are resorting to parking illegally. This problem is being exacerbated as councils increase the number of paid parking zones in their areas and take on more parking attendants to police them. "

Local Government Minister Bob Neill said: "We want to see councils use parking to support the high street and help their local shops prosper. That's why we have ended the last government's requirements to limit spaces, push up parking charges and encourage aggressive parking enforcement."

Tony Ball, vice-chairman of the Local Government Association's Economy and Transport Board, said: "Regulating parking is essential to keep traffic flowing, pedestrians and motorists safe, roads clear for emergency services and business deliveries, deterring drivers from blocking roads and pavements, and ensuring people can park near their homes or local shops.

"There isn't space in town and city centres to keep creating more parking spaces. Any revenue raised from parking management must be spent on transport services such as filling potholes, bus passes for the elderly, park and ride schemes, street lights, parking services and road improvement projects, things which will benefit all road users at some point."

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