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 631.

    Having a grace period is an absolutely ridiculous suggestion. The law abiding majority will not be affected by this and people will feel insulted if they can see that people who break the law are being allowed to get away with it.

    I thought the Tory party was meant to stand up for the rule of law!

  • rate this

    Comment number 630.

    565.@ OnlySerious Absolutely spot on, pot holes and sunken bloody drains. I think they get them cheaper, buying in bulk

  • rate this

    Comment number 629.

    As much as I don't like them at least with car parks that have barriers where you get ticket on way in and pay on way out with time limit to get through barriers is better idea as paying for the time you actually stayed and no wardens penalising the odd annoying minute. Should free wardens up for getting the idiots who are too lazy to park safely/without causing an obstruction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 628.

    What do you do when you see a space-man? Park in it man!

  • rate this

    Comment number 627.

    Having last year got a summons for a parking ticket that was never issued and having to spend more to fight it that I actually saved by proving my innocence because of the arrogance of Manchester City Council I have solved the problem of parking tickets by only frequenting places where it to park is free. HelloTrafford Centre, goodbye Manchester, hope your business dwindles to nothing!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 626.

    Country's full hence no space to park. Either full or designed before cars or both.

  • rate this

    Comment number 625.

    I'd write something constructive but i'd miss my bus.

  • rate this

    Comment number 624.

    Along with this nonsense, it seems it's a slow day for our elected representatives.

    The PM thinks investigating roulette machines is a good use of his time -

    I would think there are more pressing issues, like, oh I dunno, =>2.5m unemployed, or the stagnant economy?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 623.

    give a penalty point on the licence instead of a will put an end to the cash cow and may improve the parking situation

  • rate this

    Comment number 622.

    To Beeb Editors:

    I see the Mitchell v Police comments were closed nice and quickly at 528 comments. What's up there then?

    "Government minister innocent" not a good comments opportunity for the Beeb's bias?

  • rate this

    Comment number 621.

    'They ended the yellows early to encourage people to think it was ok to park there & they ticket someone new everyday.' Of course They did. It IS a conspiracy and you are not paranoid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 620.

    5 mins does what?

    As someone who has put money in a ticketless parking machine which it took should have covered an hour and came back within 20 minutes to find a warden writing a ticket.

    What upsets me the most no appeal without being massively financial penalty. 2x fine. This removed any responsibility for the council to show the machine was working nor the money taken was right!

  • rate this

    Comment number 619.

    I think 5 minutes grace is a good idea. Saturday i paid as normal an extortionate £5 to park for one hour outside my pregnancy class. I paid until 10.05am which usually covers the time to get out the 10am class to my car. However, being heavily pregnant i needed the toilet after the class this time, arrived at my car at 10.07 to find a parking ticket registered at 10.06! Shameful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 618.

    A friend was fined in Wycombe because the traffic warden had flipped down a part-time no parking sign after he was already parked.
    I was fined in Staines for parking at the end of double yellows where a short section of kerb was lowered. It was not in front of a gate or drive. They ended the yellows early to encourage people to think it was ok to park there & they ticket someone new everyday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 617.

    once had a parking skank approach and write a tciket, showed him my dissplay had 3 mins left on it. as we were loading card and ready to depart he blocked us, i was threatened with police when i asked him in a true kind glasweigen matter to move away. my wife filmed him, resting on bonnet and slapping ticket on. he got the sack, and he advised u his target was missed that day and he was desperate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 616.

    5 minutes seems a reasonable period to allow for seting differences on the watch.

    Bottom line is that it is up to people to manage their time in order to return to the car wihin the period that they have paid for.

    I suspect that the people that over-run their parking are the same one's that turn up late to every meeting or appointment. They consider that their time is more valuable than others

  • rate this

    Comment number 615.

    If you don't want the fine...don't break the rules.


  • rate this

    Comment number 614.

    All people who park on double yellow lines or double park deserve to fines immediately.

    Also travelers who illegally park in hospitals, supermarkets, business parks, etc should have their vehicles and caravans removed immediately and impounded.

  • rate this

    Comment number 613.

    Let me guess.

    This has been sparked by a certain US dignitary who recently was in receipt of a parking ticket.

    Yeah, I bet not one person commenting here has seen that connection.

    Whether councils use parking enforcement as a cash cow or not - rules are rules and you have to draw the line somewhere - what do you do give 5 minutes this time, 10 minutes next time?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 612.

    590. governments lie
    So you're allowed two hours free parking, yet it is a money making scheme and you are a cash cow.

    I can see a simple solution.


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