Parking offence fines in England could be cut

 
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Parking fines in England could be reduced, amid claims some councils are using them as a "cash cow".

The government could also order local authorities to bring in a five-minute "grace period" before issuing tickets when cars remain in bays for too long.

And it is looking at banning the use of CCTV cameras to enforce on-street parking restrictions.

Fixed-penalty charges currently range from £70 to £130 in London and from £40 to £70 elsewhere.

In a recent report, the Commons Transport Committee said it was "hard to justify parking fines that are substantially more than the fines for more serious offences like speeding", for which the minimum penalty is £100 and three penalty points added to the offender's licence.

'Initial step'

Since then, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has frozen the maximum fines councils can impose for parking offences until the 2015 general election.

But, in its response to the MPs' report, the Department for Transport goes further in looking at changing the system, saying it is "considering the legislative options to abolish the minimum rates for parking penalty charges".

This would be "an initial step to giving local authorities the scope to allow lower charges (than £70 in London and £40 in the rest of England) for minor parking variations", such as overstaying in car parks or on-street bays.

It is also looking at banning the use of CCTV cameras to enforce on-street parking restrictions, after the MPs said this could make "common-sense" decisions on when to issue penalties more difficult.

The Local Government Association has calculated that councils made a surplus from on- and off-street parking of £411m in 2011-12, while the RAC Foundation put the figure at £565m.

It is illegal for local authorities to set fines in order to raise revenue.

'Positive'

In a report published last autumn, the Transport Committee said: "A common-sense approach to parking enforcement should minimise the issuing of penalty charge notices to motorists who make honest mistakes."

This should include imposing a nationwide five-minute "grace" period before imposing fines on drivers whose parking tickets have expired, as already happens in some areas, it added.

In its response, the government says this is "worthy of consideration" and is asking the public to put forward its views on this and other proposals.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill said: "The government is committed to reining in over-zealous parking enforcement and unjust parking practices. It is not fair to motorists and needs to stop. That is why we have frozen parking penalty charges for the remainder of this parliament. However, we haven't stopped there.

"We have also recently launched a public consultation proposing a number of changes to make sure local authorities are not short-changing motorists and operate in a fair manner. These changes could see the end of CCTV being used for on-street parking, unnecessary yellow lines and the introduction of compulsory 'grace periods' at the end of paid on-street parking."

The Transport Committee's chairman, Labour MP Louise Ellman, said: "Parking enforcement is an important issue for motorists and for the management of urban roads - including the revitalisation of our town centres so the Transport Committee is pleased to see the government take such a positive attitude to our recommendations."

Prof Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "We should see most parking offences for what they are. Not crimes but misdemeanours and we need enforcement that reflects this.

"We need some proportionality and transparency. At the very least all councils should publish an annual report outlining what their parking policy is, how charges are set and where any surplus goes."

Local authority parking operations, 2012-2013
MAP: Councils with surpluses and deficits across England
 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 561.

    Give 5 mins grace, and they'll argue it ought to be 10. And so on ad nauseam.

    The sort of people who can't be bothered to obey the law, or who think they're above that sort of thing, keep arguing for this sort of leeway not because of fairness but because they're trying to end a system which stops them behaving selfishly by afflicting it with the 'death of a thousand cuts'.

    Keep it as it is!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 560.

    A lot of this is the result of lefty councils who hate the middle classes and their cars so try to shove them on to buses or trams, next to the very dirty, noisy, often drunken, unpleasant types they moved out to suburbs and villages to avoid. They're too stupid to realise is who are the ones with disposable income, and if forced out of city centres will spend elsewhere or on line.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 559.

    In practice, parking fines are imposed to make money, not to reduce congestion. Traffic wardens here constantly patrol up and down rows of legally parked cars to find those who overstay a few minutes, and ignore the few who are illegally parked and causing real obstruction in narrow side streets. No doubt they act under orders and/or incentives to issue as many tickets as easily as possible.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 558.

    At 471, milvusvestal wrote:
    Just like bed-blocking in hospitals, these people are selfishly taking parking spaces that should have been available to more responsible motorists . . .

    My response:
    Your analogy is totally corrupt and invalid. A patient who is 'blocking' a bed is not freely choosing to do that; a motorist can often (but not always) choose where to park his / her car.

  • rate this
    +28

    Comment number 557.

    Don't mind paying for parking, but councils should be realistic. Currently live in a town that gets over run by tourists in the summer, and is limited for parking. The council have high charges for a few hours parking BUT it's only 20p to park for half an hour which is enough for us residents to nip in to the local butcher or other independent shops if we simply have to take the car. Sensible!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 556.

    What we really need are more out-of-town shopping areas where we don't have to pay parking charges. That way the council will be happy as there will be no traffic to congest the centre and cyclists can feel free to ride around on the pavements knocking over pedestrians coming out of the pawn shops. Win-win situation.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 555.

    Rich people don't give a toss about the fines, they should be fined a LOT more to discourage their extremely inconsiderate parking behaviour.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 554.

    i wonder if the peolpe that stole my 5 motorclyes really meant to steel them, maybe they did it by accident,

    i wonder if the gangs that raped the young gilrs meant it or the police/SS meant to take no notice

    traffic warden were a means for labour to employ people thus buying votes and demonising the motorist.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 553.

    #49 Why do councils need cash? Councils need to stop dreaming up new ways of spending money and stick to essential services. They've completely lost the plot. We are not here to fund their empire building; they are there to serve us. Parking used to be free in Southend after 6.30pm. Now it's 9pm specifically to trap theatre, restaurant & pub goers. Both parking fees and fines are purely a tax.

  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 552.

    As a former councillor I can state that most councillors do see parking fines as a source of income rather than a traffic control mechanism. Where I live the High Street was dying so revenue from car parks was down. I argued that parking charges should be dropped or reduced to encourage shoppers back, but no; the charges went up to get same income from fewer cars. The High Street is now dead.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 551.

    Makes no odds where I live - Avon & Somerset police long ago added parking enforcement to the list of things they can't be bothered to do any more.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 550.

    Combine the high rates and rents with the ridiculous parking costs and you are sounding the death knell for town centres across the country. Ours is rapidly turning in to a ghost town, full off charity shops, empty shops and pigeons. The high street will continue to die until people are encouraged back to it.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 549.

    Parking fines are becoming a disgrace to the way we run our towns and cities! They are being used day in/ day out as a means to generate extra cash. I say, Councils need to offer free parking at off peak times to generate activity and encourage people and elderly to get out and about and visit their high streets. Common sense should prevail. 10 minutes late versus 7 hours!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 548.

    541.Gordon
    'motorcycle parking tends to be free also.'

    The fuel isn't.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 547.

    "536.BrianW
    Parking and most motoring fines are at a flat rate regardless of income."

    ------

    Why should someone pay less because they don't want to work for a living?

  • rate this
    -16

    Comment number 546.

    WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!!
    If you are so stupid as to park incorrectly, read a watch, read instructions etc, park inconsideratly , have a couldn't care less attitude then you deserve all you get.
    Parking fines should start in the £100's if not £1000's.
    It's time to clamp down on selfish motorists.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 545.

    Try loading / unloading in K&C and see what happens, even if you leaving well before your 15 minute grace period is up. I'm fighting a ticket at the moment. It's truly a disgrace.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 544.

    Big supermarkets offer free parking = increased trade

    Armies of Wardens fining everyone = Ghost Towns and bad feelings

    Look councils, see what you are doing, you are destroying your own towns, employ these automatons to find spaces and remove yellow lines, forget the public transport promotion, we want to pack our items in the boot of our cars or we walk away, its that simple.

  • rate this
    +29

    Comment number 543.

    Theres a difference in keeping to the spirit of the rules and exploiting those same rules for maximum financial gain.

    Is it any surprise that by demonising a large proportion of the public in this way that town centre businesses are having to close?

    Pretty soon you won’t need parking fines because there will be nothing in town centres to tempt anyone to go there.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 542.

    It's cheaper, in some built up areas, to park illegally and pay a fine promptly than park legally.

    In the same way it is often cheaper to hire a car for an inter city journey than pay for rail travel. If we had a fully integrated and efficient transport infrastructure then a lot of these anomalies would disappear. However we (UK Government) chose HS2 instead.

 

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