Government considers reducing parking offence fines
Under the move, the Department of Transport said it would look at the legislative options to abolish the minimum rates for parking penalty charges to allow local authorities to lower fines for minor parking violations.
Other measures include requiring local authorities to produce annual reports on parking enforcement, introducing a statutory “grace period” if people overstay their parking ticket by a few minutes, and the availability of a 25% discount for motorists who pay promptly after losing an appeal.
Ministers are also going to consider allowing appeals where local authorities have not followed statutory guidance and banning the use of CCTV cameras to enforce on-street parking restrictions.
The announcement comes in response to a report on local authority parking enforcement released last October by the Transport Committee, which found a ‘deep-rooted perception that local authorities view parking enforcement as a cash cow’.
At the time of the report, chair Louise Ellman MP said that the use of such charges and fines specifically to raise revenue by local authorities is neither ‘acceptable nor legal’.
She added: ‘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. Central Government should freeze the maximum penalty charge and develop differential fines for less serious parking violations.’
Since then, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced a freeze on the maximum fines that councils can impose for parking offences until the 2015 general election. However the latest announcement in response to the Transport Committee report sees the Government consider taking further action to change the system.
The news has been greeted by the Transport Committee, with Ellman commenting: ‘Parking enforcement is an important issue for motorists and for the management of urban roads – including the revitalisation of our town centres so Transport Committee is pleased to see the Government take such a positive attitude to our recommendations.
‘It is gratifying to hear that ministers have accepted our recommendation for greater transparency. Parking charges should not be imposed to raise funding for local authorities.
‘Looking to the future the Transport Committee hopes that this topic will be debated in the near future in Westminster Hall and looks forward to seeing several of its core recommendations implemented.’
Last month saw the RAC Foundation announce that English councils have made another record surplus from their parking activities, with data showing that in 2012-13 councils generated a combined "profit" of £594m from their parking operations – up 5% on the previous year.