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 571.

    @ 527. Sagacity
    The words "traffic wardens", "flexible" and "commonsense" cannot possibly go in the same sentence, however hard you may try!

  • rate this

    Comment number 570.

    It used to be an unwritten rule that there was a 'grace' period for meters and other forms of paid parking. It was only when it became a source of income for councils and targets were introduced that this disappeared.

  • rate this

    Comment number 569.

    442 pjaj No, what you need is all parties to raise money from income tax, rather than the macho "we won't raise income tax" attitude as they money through all sorts of other inefficient taxes, which big companies and the rich can avoid but that we, the 95%, have to pay. What is killing the high street? They pay corporation tax, the landlords keep revising rents upwards.

  • rate this

    Comment number 568.

    My comment comparing this with train times is perfectly valid. These days it seems everybody needs an excuse - kids aren't allowed to learn what 'losing' means, people can't understand what 'late' means. We've allowed ourselves to be treated like complete morons.
    You pay your fee, if you're late removing your vehicle, you pay the penalty. Deal with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    It's all a sham anyway. you should not have to pay for parking legitimately Simply put all town centre parking should be free. If you transgress the provided parking spaces and restrictions then you should be fined. Only then will parking fines be seen as legitimate. Any argument contrary to that indicates that it is merely a revenue raising policy

  • rate this

    Comment number 566.

    On a lighter note,

    Scientists have started using traffic wardens instead of rats for experiments. There are three primary reasons for this.

    1) Traffic wardens are far more plentiful than rats,
    2) Scientists become less attached to traffic wardens than they are to rats,
    3) There are some things that even rats will refuse to do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    5 minutes grace? You are having a laugh.

    The councils run these enterprises like a private company and there are no prizes for these lottery tickets... just big penalty fees.

    Private company's need BIG PROFITS to keep shareholders happy and the same applies to councils because the money is alegedly used to improve infrastructure.

    Have they been buying pot holes to help calm traffic in my area?

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    Nottingham has got it sewn up. Absolutely no where to park without paying. I used to know so hidden out-of-the-centre places but these have become pay-for as well. Also pay a workplace levy for the joy of parking with my employer which the council gets, not my employer.

    Absolutely bonkers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    Legalised robbery - endorsed by the Government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 562.

    If you pay for an hours worth of parking, you get an hours worth of parking. If you need longer, put your hands into your pockets and pay for an extra hour or two.

  • rate this

    Comment number 561.

    In Reading we get ripped off every time we use a meter at the end of the parking charge period.
    The minimum charge is 60p and you have to pay that even if you only need 10 minutes you also do not get a roll over the next day so even if you have over paid the night before you still have to go out and pay again if you need a few more minutes in the morning.

  • rate this

    Comment number 560.

    To "Easytiger" (70), I say, "Serve you right". It's your own fault. Why are you complaining? Park somwhere else and walk to the Tesco shop! Lazy so-and-so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 559.

    I was recently in Spain and received a parking ticket. I was given 24 hours to go back to the machine and pay a revised rate (c10 euros). If I hadn't of done this I would have had to pay in full.
    Advantages would mean honest mistakes don't go as punished
    Disadvantages would be people taking a risk and be happy to pay in the increased amount if caught.
    Double yellows should have no grace!

  • rate this

    Comment number 558.

    The problem is that these traffic wardens work on commission and their scrounger employers want maximum moneys in. Hence it is a perfect parasitic relation. I blame the motorists. If everybody would have stuck to the rules, these guys would have been out of their jobs.
    Since my last parking ticket, I now even put 10p on a parking meter for a few seconds of parking, just to be 100% 'safe'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 557.

    549 Ichabod
    "60 bikes. Cost over 3 years £1/2 million!!! Yes that really is £8300 per bike! £76000 per year on management! 6 people to maintain 60 bikes!"

    Where did you get these figures? Very interesting if correct, but they're not on the article you linked to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 556.

    "What a stupid idea. If you have a time limit, it's there so that you stick to it. It's like the trains have a timetable"
    It is like comparing Oranges and Apples. I agree train cant wait for 1 minute extra because it will affect 100s of other passengers. But Taxi can wait because its just you who is travelling. Crown jewel wont be lost if parking warden start sticking PCN after few minutes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 555.

    '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'

    The strange thing is then that if parking on yellows/dbl yellows is illegal it then makes the law disciminatory against able bodied people, which, I believe, would then itself be illegal. Crazy eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 554.

    @548 - i dont think Alan was excluding the group of workers you refer to, you seem to assume that. and i suspect some of that group are equally concerned about money. the issue isnt about whether to fine or not but whether its fair. are drivers given proper signage about restrictions, is the value of the fine proportionate,most think not which is what the objection is to, not the fine in principle

  • rate this

    Comment number 553.

    They should remove all incentives from the wardens to hand out tickets, all commissions, targets, any incentive whatsoever to give out a ticket should be removed completely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    "268.GBcerberus - I think it significant that England seems to be the only country in GB that still allows this legalised theft to continue without restraint."

    You've obviously not been to Edinburgh. A beautiful city but more wardens than urban foxes per square mile - all eager to slap a ticket on you.


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