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24 September 2014

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You are in: London > TV > Television > TV Features > London's parking pains


London's parking pains

Driving in London is not without its frustrations. You pay the Congestion Charge for the pleasure of sitting in traffic and then, once you have finally reached your destination, you are faced with the challenge of actually finding somewhere to park.

Finding a parking space doesn't mean the pain is over. Unsurprisingly, parking in London is more expensive than anywhere else in the country.

The average cost for two hours parking in Westminster is now £7.99, £7.32 in Islington and £7.01 at Heathrow. And then there are the fines...

Of course, this means there is money to be made. If you're lucky enough to own a home with a private parking space, then you can rent it out and make a tidy sum. According to, London homeowners can rent out their parking space for up to £250 a month.

Red Routes

In a series of special reports, from confusing signs to enforcement and fines, BBC London puts parking in the capital under the spotlight.

In his first report BBC London's Transport Correspondent Tom Edwards looks at the confusion surrounding the Red Route signs in the capital.

Here are the top ten locations in London for issuing PCNs (Penalty Charge Notices) on Red Routes:

  • Falloden Way/market Place loading bays
  • Hill Rise – (wrong tickets refunded £25k)
  • Parking Bays outside 433 Bromley Road
  • York Way parking bays
  • Shoreditch High Street
  • Kidbroke Park Road
  • Stanstead Road bus lane
  • Camberwell New Road bus lane
  • Osborn Street (whitechapel  box junction)
  • Lewisham Way/Parkfield Road

Thousands of pounds in refunds have already been given out, including £24,000 for tickets issued at Hill Rise, and Transport for London accepts that Red Route signs can be confusing. The low compliance to the signs has led to a review of the system.

The invisible wardens

In his second report, Transport Correspondent Tom Edwards takes a look at the unseen traffic wardens that are likely to capture you for 'illegal' parking: CCTV cameras.

Often, motorists were not even aware that they were being watched until the fine arrives demanding payment. Now, motoring organisations want councils to apply more discretion and common sense when issuing tickets.

Bad news for business

In his final report on parking, Transport Correspondent Tom Edwards looks at how parking restrictions can affect businesses in town centres.

In Guildford, Surrey, independent shop owners say that high parking charges are keeping customers away from town centres and it could put them out of business.

Your Emails

A couple of months ago I took a blind friend to St Mary's Hospital, Paddington.  She was non-weight-bearing after a foot operation and I took a wheelchair to move her.  All the parking bays opposite the new wing were suspended, so in desperation, I parked on a single yellow line and displayed her blue disabled badge in order to take her to the orthopaedic clinic.

Needless to say. I received a parking ticket but was aggrieved that my challenge was rejected and I was forced to pay the fine of £60.  I was doing a favour to a friend and saving the NHS the cost of an ambulance.  More fool me!

Jill Hampson

I received a fine at 2:45am whilst waiting outside my partner's work on a double yellow in a very quiet street.  I never left the driving seat. Does this constitute parking? The ox eng dict said parking is "leaving" your vehicle. I don't know where to turn. Please help as it is a lot of money and there is a culture of fear of bailifs etc. from councils even if you appeal through the proper channels.

Tracy Burnett

When I show up at a parking space, I want it to tell me when I can park there and when I can't. I parked on single yellow lines overnight at Snowsfields, SE1 on a Friday night, but because parking enforcement is covered by a zone with a sign showing enforcement times and days at Tower Bridge Road approximately a mile away, my car was impounded and I had to pay £260 to Southwark Council. I'm supposed to concentrate in busy London traffic with its multitude of signs and remember where all the parking zones begin and end. It's all crazy, sneaky and potentially quite dangerous.

Gary Meyler, Belvedere

I agree with the need for parking enforcement, but more often than not you find that tickets are issued over zealously, parking restrictions are over complicated, and the appeal system is far too biased toward the councils.

It is little wonder that people accuse councils of using parking fines as a revenue exercise, we need better information on how this whole area is actually managed.

Richard, Clapham

It is not only the red route signs that are confusing. I, and many others, find parking signs impossible to understand. The entire signage for parking should be reviewed and tested for clarity of meaning.

V. Munro

I think that parking should be handed back to the Police, at least they used discretion and spoke to the drivers with respect. TFL have made a real mess of the whole parking situation

Michael Smith

I am a courier and I drive all over London. I drive a small van and I still get tickets that I have to dispute and show proof of loading/unloading to get the ticket cancelled. I have passed a Parking Attendant who saw me delivering and he still gave me a ticket which was later cancelled. I assume it was cancelled as Ealing Council never wrote back to me after my letter criticising the situation. Driving for a living is a nightmare and professional drivers like me are having to subsidise the Councils for their translators and their housing demands etc. I can't afford it anymore and I am fed up with London. It's getting worse and worse.

James Hudson

I live and work in Westminster and I was a car driver but was gradually priced off the road and took up a scooter. However, we have just been informed by Westminster City Council that they are soon to start charging to park in the designated scooter bays in all of Westminster. I might soon have to give up my scooter too!

Charles Baker

I was walking back to my car in Marylebone. I could see the car at the moment the pay and display ticket time came up.  I saw the Parking Attendant start to issue the ticket.  I called out to him as I was running towards the car.  The alarm flashing lights went off as I got near just as the attendant put the ticket on the windscreen.  I was just two minutes over my time after having paid £5 for just over an hour. I thought they were supposed to wait by a car for 5 minutes before issuing the ticket.

Westminster Council really are over zealous and whilst parking enforcement is essential, this kind of practice will never help parking enforcement get public acceptance.

Peter Burgess

I waited only 5 min in a loading bay and I got the ticket. I pleaded that: I only waited 5 min and I did not see any sign showing that it would cost me £100 even if I waited 5 min. My appeal was refused. Is it not out of order?


I have 2 stories.

1) The parking meter broke when we were putting money in. An attendant was a few meters away and we told him the story. He said that was fine, and he put a cover on the meter to show it was out of order. We returned later to find a ticket: we lost the appeal because the cover said we were not allowed to park … even though the attendant said it was ok!!

2) Paying the congestion charge a day late costs £10 not £8. When I said I wanted to pay, the operator led me through the process and mistakenly said £8, to which I agreed. Just before I put the phone down I asked him to confirm this, because it sounded wrong. He apologised, said he had made a mistake, and took payment again for the £10. I was refused a refund for the £8 since I hadn't corrected him earlier. This seems to me like simple robbery: They made an £8 mark up for no extra effort. Challenging got me nowhere, and each time I tried to take it further I had to go through a longer and longer phone conversation. This felt more like an extortion racket than anything else.

Alan Thompson

It is about time these activities by TFL were bought to light. My local parking bay is illiegally marked and I have won parking appeals on this very point. However, despite this being bought to their attention, TFL still continue to issue tickets in the hope that motorists won't realise and subsequently appeal. Surely this is a case of fraud?

Rick, Highgate

I recently received a parking ticket from Westminster Council for pulling over to the side of the road to consult my A to Z for what was probably under a minute. I didn't leave my car or turn the engine off. The reason I had to pull over was because there were confusing roadworks and my one way route had been shut - and there was no signage as to what alternative route I could take (Bayswater Road). I was caught by a camera. I had apparently pulled over on a double yellow line. I challenged the ticket but was refused. This is no longer about keeping roads unobstructed, but about making money - and is close to extortion. It disgusts me.

Jen, London

I was interested to see your item on the 1 o'clock news about unfair parking restrictions in London.

The Controlled Parking Zone in my own area (London Borough of Ealing) operates, not from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, but from 9am to 9pm seven days a week.  The area is residential, with no underground stations nearby, and very few shops, and has never had a shortage of parking spaces.

The CPZ is not, of course, about controlling parking: it is about making money.  Evidence of this can be seen from the behaviour of the parking attendants, who routinely patrol at five-to-nine in the evening, including Sundays, ticketing the cars of unsuspecting visitors.

Councils that abuse their position as a statutory highway authority in this way in order to extort money should be relieved of their responsibility.  It should also be made illegal to pay parking attendants a bounty for issuing penalty notices.

John Naulls, London

I am one of many who have to drive regularly in London carrying prohibited items from Public transport (because of their high value and bulk). I have always paid to park and it can be so expensive that it can almost wipe out a days income after tax and overheads. A ticket can wipe out several days income.

So, I am always careful to stay within the rules wherever I go, and, as a consequence, have had very few tickets and even ticket free years. However a month or so ago I had a ticket from Camden for 'feeding the meter'.

I parked for a total of 1 hour on a meter bay that had a maximum of 2 hours parking allowed. My offence? Buying two pay and display tickets instead of one. Even though the two tickets ran consecutively with no gap between the expiry of one and the commencement of the other. This was still apparently an offence. They even sent pictures of my car. It was a very quiet saturday morning and the meter rejected some of my coins so I had to exchange them and return to the car.

What is confusing is that nowhere are there any signs that define what constitutes 'feeding a meter". Nor does anyone seem to know, even in Camden.

Other boroughs parking offices told me that feeding the meter was defined by paying for time that took the meters time beyond the maximum time permitted at the bay. ie 2hrs 20 mins in a 2 hour bay. Two Camden wardens told me the same, another said it depended on the area and did not seem to understand the question. Other boroughs do not penalise for meter feeding at all.

If the goalposts are going to be moved in each borough then this needs to be clearly displayed as to what is and is not an offence. It is a complete mess and rules need to be standardised across London

Mark Kehoe

Parking control in London is a disgrace.  The pressure from cameras and enforcers is relentless.  There is little scope to go about any form of business or pleasure.  You cannot even pull over to pick up goods or passengers without the fear of being caught on CCTV (which was never installed to perform the function of policing parking!!!).

I have a medical condition which can effect bladder control.  I recently had to pull over in George Street, W1.  The cost of relieving myself - £60, with no prosepect of an appeal.  I moved to London in the lates 60's when it was a fabulous place to live.  Nowadays, I don't want to come anywhere near the place unless there is no other option. 

The idiots at City Hall have taken away our capital city and given it over to the tourists, the minority groups and other groups that fit the whim of the resident mayor.  Livingstone is gone, but his policies look like living on.  Thatcher removed him once.  The electorate removed him a second time.  Can't anyone remove his legacy?

Phil Richards

last updated: 07/08/2008 at 15:13
created: 30/07/2008

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