Give drivers five minutes grace on parking tickets, MPs say

car parked on double yellow lines Councils receive hundreds of millions of pounds in parking fines

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Drivers should be given "five minutes grace" after their parking tickets expire before facing fines, MPs on the Commons transport committee say.

It also said councils in England should publish annual parking-charge accounts if they want to prove they are not being used as a "cash cow"

The Transport Committee warned it was "neither acceptable nor legal" to use fines to increase revenue.

Councils made a surplus of hundreds of millions of pounds each year, it added.

The MPs urged ministers to freeze charges, currently capped at £130 in London and £70 outside. Councils said money raised went back into services.

Committee chairman, Labour MP Louise Ellman, said: "There is a deep-rooted public perception that parking enforcement is used as a cash cow, so it's essential that local authorities apply stringent transparency."

'Hard to justify'

The report said the Local Government Association had calculated a surplus from on- and off-street parking of £411m in 2011/12, while the RAC Foundation put the figure at £565m.

The maximum fixed penalty for speeding is £60, unless the case is referred to court.

Mrs Ellman argued the charging system was perverse, saying: "Annual parking accounts would allow the public to see how much local revenue is derived from the enforcement of fines, and what proportion of this come from on- or off-street parking charges.

"It's right that parking charges be determined locally, but hard to justify fines that substantially exceed penalties for more serious offences like speeding.

Start Quote

Parking charges are not inherently wrong but they need to be fair, and where penalties are levied they should be proportionate to the 'crime' committed”

End Quote Stephen Glaister Director RAC Foundation

"Central government should freeze the maximum penalty charge and develop differential fines for less serious parking violations. "

Mrs Ellman also said the Department for Transport's rules for councils should include a five-minute "grace-and-favour" period after tickets expire before imposing a fine.

A government spokesman said: "We welcome this report, which strengthens the case for changes to be made to parking rules.

"The law is clear. Parking is not a tax or cash cow for local councils. This government is reining in over-zealous parking enforcement and unfair parking practices, with the levels of parking penalty charges being kept under review."

But Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association's economy and transport board, said: "As this report recognises, parking controls are not being used by councils to raise revenue. They are essential for keeping motorists and pedestrians safe, traffic flowing and ensure people can park near their homes and local shops."

He added: "Councils always look to be open and transparent with residents on their parking policies.

"Any income they make from charges and fines is spent on running parking services, fixing potholes and providing subsidised travel to children and the elderly."

Last month, the government said it was considering banning fixed cameras and so-called "spy cars" used by councils to catch people parking illegally.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, welcomed the idea of getting councils to publish figures, saying it would "illuminate what many drivers regard as the murky world of parking policy".

"Parking charges are not inherently wrong but they need to be fair, and where penalties are levied they should be proportionate to the 'crime' committed.

"Local authorities are struggling with huge financial pressures but so are drivers. It is unacceptable that car users should be singled out as an easy way of shoring up shrinking budgets."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 531.

    422.john anthony

    "I live in Slough..."

    You have my deepest sympathy.

    Meanwhile, from the article:

    "The report said the Local Government Association had calculated a surplus from on- and off-street parking of £411m"

    What report? The article just talks about what MPs on the Transport Committee warn and say, which could be mere tittle-tattle!

  • rate this

    Comment number 530.

    The whole system is designed to bleed Joe public out of as much revenue as possible. Lets be honest the local authorities have to find as much money as possible to pay massive salaries for all of the non jobs !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 529.

    I parked in Abingdon multi storey car park whilst going to register my Mother's death. I bought a ticket and stuck it to the windscreen. When I returned, the ticket had fallen the right way up on the driver's seat and was clearly visible; as was the penalty notice under my wipers. I sent ticket and letter but the appeal was refused. That council clearly favours cash over compassion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 528.

    What I'd like to know from the councils is why so many allow large businesses and supermarkets in residential areas breach planning laws on a regular basis with little more than a soft rap on the knuckles, but fine individuals so rapidly even for minor transgressions. I can accept a hard line if applied consistently, but the impression is the public is a soft target.

  • rate this

    Comment number 527.

    the problem is that people will add the 5 minutes to the time they park & tthen complain about getting a ticket on the 5th minute & want 5 minutes more. A more sensible approach is to say parking wardens should be a bit more flexible, use a bit of commonsense & not hang around cars whose time is about to expire

  • Comment number 526.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 525.

    i imagine it takes a certain kind of a**hole to do this job. quick and eager to jump on someone for gains whilst feeling superior in their power. i suppose they have targets to aim for, but the private firms push the limit of what they can 'screw' you for i feel.

    i dont even drive and i feel sorry for motorists who get caught a minute or two over their allotted time. its extortionate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 524.

    5 mins grace will do nothing. if you were to have a grace period then 15mins would be an acceptable time period, BUT then where would it stop as some will argue that 15mins is too short, why not 20 or 30 or no parking charges.
    If you park on single or double yellow lines for anything other than a crucial emergency then its your own fault, groceries are not a get out for illegal parking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 523.


    'Where I live, a parish council was introduced nearly 10 years ago. There has never been a ballot to elect the parish councillors.'

    Presumably because no-one else wants the job. Why don't you stand yourself?

  • rate this

    Comment number 522.

    The level of penalty charge should be proportionate to the time parked.
    £120 or £60 if paid promptly is more than you get fined for theft or a minor assault.

  • rate this

    Comment number 521.

    @500 "What happens in a years time when the 5 minute grace period isn't long enough? Double Yellows are there for a reason"

    I think that was an article a few weeks back you are referring to. This one is about people who have paid for parking tickets and parked legally.

    Anyway it is all talk, these things will never happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 520.

    Spiteful traffic wardens, bullying councils, lying police, MP's criminal expenses, corporate fraud, energy & water cartels, banking fraud, neglect of elderly in old folks homes, social service neglect of children at risk, lying politicians & worst of all, spying on our emails, telephone, private lives,etc, & all spitefully achieved with the willing assistance of tens of thousands fellow citizens

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    505.Philip Allen
    4 Minutes ago
    This is stupid. When does 5 minutes grace become 6 or 7?
    Just like if a police officer allows you some grace doing 33 MPH in a 30 MPH restriction. It is ultimately their choice, you have exceeded, and they will have an option to give a bit of grace. Will it work? probably not if councils demand their pound of flesh.

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    If they open the council accounts to the public then we will find that more than 50% of council tax goes to pay the pensions of council workers...

    It'll never happen

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    If you take the risk for however small a time and park illegally you pay the fine. That's what the laws are there for.
    The Government are using this as a smokescreen to attack local authorities. Hard working British tax payers need to realise that thisGovernment are using blame culture to cover up their own inadequacies. Councils, the sick, old young. Not me Guv politics
    Look at the energy debate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 516.

    Does this apply to the Labouguini;s and Maclarens parked in the west end?

    No of course not, they have security guards to shoot traffic wardens on site with diplomatic immunity.

    Shoot the offenders, and anyone who thinks that they are outside the law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    As a burglar I object to the fines I have to pay on trivial robberies. I mean, if I steal £20 or a cheap mobile phone I should just get a slap on the wrist and told not to be a naughty boy. Instead I get a substantial fine. I think us petty thieves are being treated as cash cows. It should be everybody's right to break the law a little bit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    Our local council is imposing "Residents Parking" on all roads within a mile of the station so it can then be sure that a new Station car park will be profitable. Between the restrictions going in and a carpark being built (several years) the town will suffer from a massive shorgage of parking for the displaced commuter population. Nothing to do with public service, everything to do with revenue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    Got to my car with a few minutes to spare, but was then asked by a Japanese tourist where the station was. Thought it wouldn't hurt to show him. When I got back (4 mins over) I had a ticket! Being helpful cost me £35. I would have happily paid an overcharge. Surely we could have machines where you can scan the charge ticket to pay a little extra if over by a few minutes. It happens sometimes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    Islington Council now has an "Instant Ticket" policy when you park on a SINGLE yellow line. I was issued with a ticket after 30 seconds on a single yellow outside my house in a quiet residential street.

    Is there anyone out there who seriously believes that this is not about revenue generation?


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