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

Related Stories

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."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 651.

    Totally illogical.

    If you've paid until 2.00pm, at 2.01 a fine could be levied. If you give a 5 min 'grace' period people will just use it, arrive a 6mins past & still argue about a fine.

    Instead of 2hrs, why not give 2hrs 5mins for the given tariff? Or charge £2 to park for 'a while'? Because its stupid & wont make any difference, sooner or later it runs out, and you might get a ticket.

  • rate this

    Comment number 650.

    Its ridiculous to compare a murderer with those who are late by 5 minutes"

    Absolutely. Paying a fine unfairly is peanuts compared with the consequences of unjustly being accused of murder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 649.

    Britain needs to improve its public transports-- a good example like Switzerland! Oh, no money, what about having the Chinese& the French to invest?

  • rate this

    Comment number 648.

    How about some fairness in parking in the first place. I've lived for 7 years in Oxford in a flat, but I have no right to apply for residential parking due to an agreement the builders made with the council. The local council family just moving into their free house up the road can park their two cars just fine though. Anyway off to work to earn more tax to pay for their dinner. :(

  • rate this

    Comment number 647.

    While technically the people saying that if we allow 5 minutes where will it end. This does not account for councils covering town centers in double yellow line so people are forced to park illegally. The government talks about treating everyone respectfully and ethically and lets councils and police abuse people with fines. We already pay tax!

  • rate this

    Comment number 646.

    My local authority changed their machines to ones where you need to put in your registration. They said it was to stop 'cheats' handing their ticket over to other 'cheats' who would then use the remaining time on their parking ticket. Isn't the 'cheat' the local authority who charges for an hours parking and then charges another driver for part of the same hour? Unaccountable & power-hungry!

  • rate this

    Comment number 645.

    @ 640 Think Tank


    Now there's an idea!

    Nice one

  • rate this

    Comment number 644.

    Why have the beeb closed down the plebgate blog. Not going quite the way they wanted?

  • rate this

    Comment number 643.

    Any fine should be in proportion to the offence.

    No Parking ticket - £10
    Overstay ticket by up to 30 minutes £5 Overstay by an hour £10. Etc

    If it was like that we could think of local councils as managing parking and not fleecing the motorist to pay for excessive management salaries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 642.

    It will make difference how much grace you give drivers because they will all ways want more
    As for England councils having to publish annual parking-charge accounts well in that case the government should publish annual account on what every government department spends & makes and deals they make with the private sector so we can see if we are getting a good deal or been taken to the cleaners

  • rate this

    Comment number 641.

    Traffic wardens being targeted with numbers of tickets issued is morally wrong. If councils are not using parking enforcement as revenue then why set targets? Parking enforcement has overtaken town centres with less and less roads being free to park in. Now many smaller town centres are ghost towns as businesses have been forced to move on to retail parks. RIP the British high street.

  • rate this

    Comment number 640.

    @635 sjh

    If they say the deeds have disappeared then they can't be the owners so get the council to prosecute the people charging without the owners permission (i.e. themselves) ... hmmm makes you think?

  • rate this

    Comment number 639.

    @ 631.
    12 Minutes ago

    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!"

    JEEZ, IT IS PARKING WE ARE TALKING HERE! Not piracy or terrorism!

  • rate this

    Comment number 638.

    Make parking free so that shops can benefit from this depressed economy.

    The UK is obsessed with Toll Roads, Parking Wardens & Traffic Control

    All people want is to get to the shops in their car and transport heavy goods back home

  • rate this

    Comment number 637.

    In a permit holders only parking zone by my residence traffic wardens often appear in their cars (which they illegally park in these permit spaces when they don't own one) and book people whose permit has run out because the local council has made the renewal process more difficult and you have to wait longer. By that instance shouldn't I just report their vehicle to council for illegal parking?

  • Comment number 636.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 635.

    Many years ago in my home town of Brigg, Nth Lincs, an area of land was donated to the town by a generous land owner to provide a parking area for visitors to the town. It was donated on the condition that parking remained free. A few years ago the council introduced charges. When challenged about it, they said that the deeds had disappeared.

    What a surprise!

    Councils are not honest!

  • rate this

    Comment number 634.

    Why don't parking meters give change, greedy load of money grabbing ...... I can't write the last word, the beeb would probably remove the post

  • rate this

    Comment number 633.

    Sounds a little too much like common sense to me. It therefore won't happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 632.

    Some of the comments here are laughable! If the same logic is applied to 'rules' in general a football wouldn't have to cross the line in order to count as a goal, a golf ball would be deemed to be in the hole if it landed close to it and a batsmen might be given not out if the ball hits and breaks the wicket. If you paid for 60 minutes of parking and at 61 mins your late, your time is up.


Page 1 of 33


More Politics stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.