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Parking fines – New Labour's favourite cash cow


£1.2 billion per year and going up relentlessly
   That's how much local councils in England are squeezing out of motorists to bridge gaps in their budgets. As a result of New Labour's policies, the price of parking a car has gone up by 82% since 1997 and councils are making most of their money from parking tickets rather than parking fees. In fact, England's councils made a profit of £450 million out of motorists in 2005.

No sign of joined-up government
"It has been government policy to discourage people from taking vehicles into congested areas by applying heavy parking charges and fines. But what this government has singularly failed to do is provide sufficient integrated public transport as a viable alternative."

Parking Facts
• Many of the sneaky tactics used by councils to extract fines from car owners involve signs. Some are placed out of sight, some are illegible and the rest are made deliberately incomprehensible.
• The number of motorists lodging successful appeals against parking fines suggests that the system is a mess and it is only sheer inertia, and a lack of confidence in the court system, which prevents more motorists from taking highway robbers to court.
• Councils deny using parking fines as a means of raising revenue but every old lag proclaims his innocence, even after he's been banged up, and the CTSC has found them guilty of poor judgement and 'a lack of professionalism, which has bought the (parking) system into disrepute'.
• Councils consistently fail to use the money raised to improve parking facilities and roads.
• Some 120 councils handle their parking via private contractors, which give their traffic wardens quotas for raising income via fines.
• Half of the country still has 'criminalized' parking, which is enforced by the police, rather than 'decriminialized' parking enforced by private contractors.

Serial Abuse of Human Rights
The Commons Transport Select Committee has decided that the law on towing away illegally parked vehicles is vague. Worse, the chief appeals adjudicator for England and Wales is worried that removing an obstructing vehicle may violate the owner's human right to enjoy his/her property.
   The CTSC is also worried about heavy-handed parking enforcement, such as when a vehicle is towed because a parking ticket has fallen out of sight and not because it is causing a hazard or an obstruction.
   Removing a vehicle in these circumstances violates Article I of the Human rights Act 1998.

The Commons Transport Select Committee would like to:

  1. Prevent parking wardens and their employers from receiving cash and other incentives to issue tickets to motorists.
  2. Enforce proper training for wardens and oblige wardens to show more discretion as 20% of all parking tickets issued are subsequently cancelled.
  3. Extend the grace period for wheel clamping from 15 minutes to 1 hour, crack down on 'cowboy' clampers and turn clamping into a 'last resort' penalty used only for serial offenders and unregistered vehicles.
  4. Introduce a 2-tier system of fines with a lower rate for people who overstay their paid-for time by a few minutes but a higher penalty for serious offences, such as parking on yellow lines.
  5. More CCTV in car parks to make provide solid evidence rather than the products of bad memories.
  6. Make the appeals process simpler, allow quick-payment discounts even if an appeal is lost, force councils to respond to a challenge within 28 days, and introduce compensation for motorists who have been messed about by jobsworth bureaucrats.
  7. Close the loophole which allows foreign motorists to evade fines and UK parking rules.
  8. When the system has been 'cleaned up', to abolish police traffic wardens and introduce universal decriminalized parking, and create a national parking ombudsman.



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