UK traffic wardens issued a parking ticket every four seconds last year, dishing out a total of 7.8 million in fines and raking in a whopping £255 million from motorists.

The figures, obtained through a series of freedom of information requests by Churchill Insurance, found that Westminster City Council issued the equivalent of more than four Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) per resident in 2013, generating an income of £24 million for 455,000 fines.

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Outside London, Cardiff issued the most fines at 57,000 – while North Somerset Council generated the most revenue at £2.25 million.

The variations in figures come as councils can set their own parking charges, usually at £40 or £60 – and they get to keep them to spend on the roads in their area.

Only 187 out of 435 UK councils responded to the freedom of information requests, meaning some councils could be making even more money from drivers.

Out of those that did respond, on average they issued 23,000 fines – while one in 15 were successfully challenged.

The number of tickets issued fell by 1.5% since 2012, after communities secretary Eric Pickles said that “local authorities should not use parking as a tax or cash cow”.

However, some councils actually increased the amount of fines issued, with Runnymede Borough Council in Surrey showing a 55% rise in PCNs dished out.

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