Traffic wardens down, parking fines up. That’s the story in the figures obtained under freedom of information requests submitted to councils across the UK.
According to swiftcover.com – which obtained the data – there were 6.8 million tickets issued in 2011. That’s one every 4.6 seconds.
Yet there were fewer wardens in 2011 than 2010. 3,693 as compared to 3,882.
Of the tickets issued, one in four was disputed and of these 39% were overturned (down from 47% the previous year).
There are two points worthy of particular attention.
The first is the widely differing rate of success in appeals between councils.
In Bradford only 11% of appeals were granted, yet in Chichester that rose to 72%.
Are enforcers in West Sussex displaying a worrying lack of knowledge about the rules and regulations they are trying to uphold when they issue a ticket?
The second point of note is the £234 million raised from the fines. While many authorities actually run their parking operations at a loss, others make a handsome surplus and the question must again be asked as to what they do with the excess. The law says any money left after the parking provision bills have been paid has to be spent on transport or environmental services. This is a broad definition and the public will be left with the suspicion that some authorities see parking enforcement not as a way of managing congestion – which it should be – and more of a general revenue raiser to shore up budgets being cut by central government – which is illegal.
This has at least been recognised by the Local Government Minister Bob Neill who said: “There is no excuse for town halls using parking fines and motorists as cash cows. There are plenty of other ways for councils to raise extra income or make savings like better procurement and sharing back-office services.
“We want to see councils use parking to support the high street and help their local shops prosper. That’s why we have ended the last Government’s requirements to limit spaces, push up parking charges and encourage aggressive parking enforcement.”
Of course, if Mr Neil and his colleagues hadn’t cut the money allocated to councils then we wouldn’t be in this situation. But that’s the world we are in.