Devon loses money over parking fines

Usually seen as a profitable money-spinner, council parking fines are not such good news for Devon’s district councils. A recent report reveals it is costing them much more money to collect than the fines are generating—nearly £800,000—and that’s all taxpayers’ money being wasted.

Devon County Councillors are due to debate the report that shows how their decision to take over parking enforcement duties from the police was a failure from its beginning in 2008. Although its on-street parking fines are making a profit, it is their collecting of Penalty Charge Notices that has made a loss for the last five years, culminating in the £800,000 in 2011/2012. Each district council operates its own team of traffic wardens and it was suggested savings could be made if the operation was centralised.

So, in Devon you not only have the negative impact of high street parking fines on local trades-people and businesses, but Devon County Council is actually managing to lose taxpayers’ money in the process. The irony of this seemed to be lost on the head of the council’s scrutiny committee. ‘I want to make progress towards a healthier turnover, without exploiting car drivers,’ he said, ‘but helping the local economy because that is vital to all our futures.’ Well, yes!

Salt was rubbed into the humiliating wound when it was revealed that the parking fines report itself has cost £22,000 of taxpayers’ money. Just a big hole getting bigger…

In the meantime it has been reported that European car owners are just not paying their parking fines. Just over half a million pounds is owed councils from Portsmouth to Southampton. Some Europeans have cottoned on to the local failure and one foreign car owner has racked up 46 unpaid parking tickets.

To combat this, councils are now employing a Euro Parking Collection company, but this firm is finding European Union co-operation sadly lacking when its comes to collecting fines. The French Vehicle Licensing Authority, for instance, has refused to pass on any car owner details—so for the French it’s free parking in England! At least, it should encourage local tourism…

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