BASINGSTOKE council made almost £3 million from parking tickets in 2018-19, a figure labelled as "eye-watering" by the AA.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Counil made £2,611,200 from the machines located in its car parks between April 1, 2018, and March 31, 2019, with an additional £172,267.30 made from pay by phone tickets, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

They sold a total of 1.1 million tickets in that time, including free ones.

The AA have called out the amount that Basingstoke council make from parking, saying that councils from across the UK "have come to rely on money from parking to prop up town hall coffers".

However, Councillor Hayley Eachus, cabinet member for Environment and Enforcement, said that all the money made from car parks in the borough goes towards their maintenance.

She said: "All the income made from parking goes towards the cost of maintaining and operating our car parks and other transport-related services.

"We are investing in the town centre car parks and work is planned to start later this year, with improvements to Central Car Park. This will include resurfacing, improving parking bay widths and providing marked pedestrian routes.

"We have recently agreed funding for a new electric vehicle charging hub which will be created in Feathers Yard Car Park and we are upgrading the payment machines at The Malls to accept contactless payments.

"The council also provides £800,000 to support local bus routes and the shuttle bus service, maintains bus shelters and street name plates and to deliver transport planning policy and strategy."

A spokesperson for the AA said: "£2.6 million in income from parking is an eye-watering sum, but councils across the UK have come to rely on money from parking to prop up town hall coffers.

"This has particularly been the case with austerity cutbacks.

"Councils have to find a balance between parking charges that give the best return and not putting off the town centre customers who support businesses, who contribute to council taxation through business rates.

"Enforcement is usually the most contentious aspect of council parking and Basingstoke hasn't always got it right, having in 2017 refunded more than 95 per cent of parking tickets challenged by drivers."

The Local Government Association defended the amount made by Basingstoke council, with Cllr David Renard, their transport spokesman, saying: “Councils are on the side of motorists and shoppers when setting parking policies, which aim to make sure that there are spaces available for residents, high streets are kept vibrant and traffic is kept moving.

“Any income raised through on-street parking charges and fines is spent on running parking services and any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as filling potholes, supporting concessionary bus fares to help reduce congestion and other local transport projects that benefit high streets and local economies.”