Why we need to reduce the cost of parking fines

Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) has one of the biggest surpluses in parking charges and fines outside of London—£5.3 million in 2011/12. No one enjoys an unexpected fine or charge, but the high cost of parking fines are, more often than not, out of all proportion to the offences committed.

This leaves many feeling particularly aggrieved. This is largely due to the high cost of parking fines that are out of all proportion to the offences committed. We are, after all, mostly talking about drivers merely looking for spaces in which to park their car, while otherwise going about their lawful activities, and falling foul of local regulations. Especially so when compared to fines levied for other more serious offences. Recently, a Bath driver was fined £95 and given three penalty points for driving without due care and with an insecure load. That is not much above your average parking fine.

Because of this anomaly, the government is now looking at reducing the general cost of parking fines. Indeed, the Commons Transport Committee (CTC) recently said it was ‘hard to justify parking fines that are substantially more than the fines for more serious offences like speeding.’ Furthermore, their report said: ‘The Government should also work with the Mayor of London and local authorities outside London to identify ways in which the burden on the motorist of penalty charges for minor parking violations can be reduced.’

As for the effect of parking fines on local businesses, the CTC concluded: ‘It is unacceptable that local authorities set enforcement regimes that effectively force some companies to incur Penalty Charge Notices costing hundreds of thousands of pounds a year for carrying out their business.’

Commenting on the CTC’s recommendations, Transport minister Robert Goodwill said ‘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 reduction of the cost and issuing of parking fines would be welcomed by drivers who have, for too long, felt that town halls treat them as cash cows to be milked at any and every occasion

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