Local authorities are facing an average reduction in spending of 28% over four years as a result of the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), announced on 20 October. The cut is higher than the 25% reduction expected by senior officers at the Association of Directors for Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport. And it is clear that in town halls around the country efforts are being made to ensure that local services are being run efficiently. However, it should be remembered that parking charges may not be set with a view to raising a surplus of income which could then be used for other non-transport related activities. Likewise, parking penalties should not be increased with a view to them being a ‘nice little earner’. Penalty charges are not a charge for a service, they are a penalty for failing to comply with the regulations. And there is no reason to raise them until every other way of getting motorists to do what you want them to do has been explored.
Last year, the Traffic Penalty Tribunal overturned more than seven thousand tickets – many of which had been issued by councils who had not bothered to sign parking regulations clearly or to listen to motorists who had committed minor infringements such as displaying their tickets upside down and so on. Local authorities should ensure their parking policies have been carefully thought through and that all their signage is legal and clear before contemplating asking the government to increase the amounts they can charge in parking fines.
Central government has made it abundantly clear to local authorities that their objective should be to organise parking systems so that no penalties need to be issued for legitimate parking whatsoever. This may be a Utopian objective but certainly penalty charges should be used only as a tool to enable compliance with parking rules: not as a revenue raiser. Motorists as shoppers bring significant trade to town centres and those that can’t conveniently use public transport or other means need sensibly priced parking – and penalties. Even non-motorists may rely on the car more than they think. The small businesses we all rely on such as electricians, plumbers and builders, as well as health visitors, use cars and small vans for the majority of their visits. Any extra motoring costs to them will have to come out of someone’s purse.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11802161