Millions of pounds of profit were made from Merton Council's parking charges in the last year, it has been revealed.

Merton was ranked 15th in England for its surpluses from parking operations, making £10.2 million, according to the RAC.

The study revealed £819 million has been generated from the on and off-street parking activities of the 353 local authorities in England during the 2016/17 financial year.

The figure was calculated by taking income from parking charges and penalty notices and then deducting running costs.

It represents a 10 per cent leap on the 2015/16 surplus of £744 million.

The data analysed for motoring research charity RAC Foundation by transport consultant David Leibling comes from analysing the annual returns that councils make to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Many of the highest totals were seen in London, with Westminster having the largest surplus (£73.2 million) followed by Kensington and Chelsea (£32.2 million) and Camden (£26.8 million).

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding has urged motorists to read their own local authority’s parking report to see the explanation for parking charges and how any surplus is being spent.

He said: “The upward path in profits is in part a reflection of the record number of cars and volume of traffic.”

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, claimed councils must “strike a balance” when setting charges in a bid to ensure there are parking spaces available.

He said: “Income raised through on street parking charges is spend on running parking services and any surplus is only spend on essential transport projects, such as tackling our national “12 billion roads repair backlog and creating new parking spaces.”

Councillor Ross Garrod, Merton's cabinet member for street cleanliness and parking, said: "Residents have told us that traffic congestion is one of their top concerns and enforcing traffic regulations is one way the council tackles this. 

"The council operates a firm but fair approach to enforcement and is completey transparent with motorists on where we will take action against inconsiderate driving or parking that clogs up our roads.

"Our parking charter sets out what we expect from motorists and what they can expect from us in return. After including the costs of running our parking enforcement service, any surplus made from traffic contraventions contributes to the cost of the Freedom Pass which this year will cost the council over £9m." 

The table is below of the 20 councils in England with the largest surpluses from parking operations, according to the RAC Foundation:

1. Westminster (£73.2 million)

2. Kensington and Chelsea (£32.1 million)

3. Camden (£26.8 million)

4. Hammersmith and Fulham (£23.1 million)

5. Brighton and Hove (£21.2 million)

6. Wandsworth (£20.5 million)

7. Islington (£19.1 million)

8. Haringey (£14.6 million)

9. Hackney (£14.5 million)

10. Hounslow (£12.0 million)

11. Lambeth (£11.9 million)

12. Milton Keynes (£11.1 million)

13. Birmingham (£11.1 million)

14. Brent (£10.5 million)

15. Merton (£10.2 million)

16. Cornwall (£9.7 million)

17. Bristol (£9.5 million)

18. Tower Hamlets (£9.5 million)

19. Newham (£8.9 million)

20. Barnet (£8.6 million)

Source the RAC Foundation