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aa launches campaign for fairer parking enforcement

Caught in a trap

AA launches campaign to fight back against rampant ticketing by council and private parking enforcers

11 December 2017

We've launched a campaign to fight back against rampant ticketing by council and private parking enforcers, to ensure that first-time offenders in bus lanes and yellow box junctions get a warning letter instead of a fine, and residents are no longer taxed for parking outside their homes.

Called ‘Caught in a Trap’, we've written to the Secretary of State for Transport asking for government intervention to restore the principle of deterrence in the enforcement of parking and moving traffic offences – instead of the harvesting of fines at every opportunity.

Private parking machine 640

Gearing up for a bumper Christmas of PCNs

The campaign comes as many councils and private parking operators; having reaped millions of pounds in parking fines from summer holidaymakers, gear up for a bumper Christmas of PCNs (Penalty Charge Notice if you’re a council, Parking Charge Notice if you’re a private operator).

Tourists treated like lambs to the slaughter

Freedom of Information evidence shows that tourists visiting some of the UK’s top holiday destinations this summer were treated like lambs to the slaughter by councils who urged them to visit and then fleeced them for parking fines. A sample of 50 councils across the country issued nearly 450,000 parking tickets and hauled in more than £16 million in fines income.

The AA now fears that, with the squeeze on parking and with people in a rush and held up in queues, the same fate will befall thousands of Christmas shoppers who simply make an honest mistake.

Parking tickets and parking income by Council 

Freedom of Information requests, for the number of parking tickets issued and parking fine income received from July to September, reveal that some councils handed out tens of thousands of Penalty Charge Notices, some just hundreds.

Most shocking was the variation in parking fines income at tourist destinations with similar numbers of visitors. Some netted millions of pounds, some less than £5000.

  • Eastbourne Borough Council (3.598 million tourist visits a year)  –  76 PCNs, £1980 in fines
  • Stratford on Avon District Council (5.154 million visits a year) – 144 PCNs, £2169 in fines
  • Lincoln City Council (3.563 million visits a year) – 610 PCNs, £11,982 in fines
  • East Devon District Council (5.803 million visits a year) – 706 PCNs, £11,796 in fines
  • New Forest District Council (4.928 million visits a year) – 2,888 PCNs, £76,670 in fines
  • Winchester City Council (3.474 million visits a year) – 2,975 PCNs, £65,627 in fines
  • Canterbury City Council (7.033 million visits a year) – 10,224 PCNs, £281,689 in fines
  • Hackney London Borough Council (5.763 million visits a year) – 31,421 PCNs, £1,741,725 in fines
  • Newham London Borough Council (6.791 million visits a year) – 56,642 PCNs, £2,210,210 in fines
  • Edinburgh London Borough Council (4.01 million visits a year) – 58,994 PCNs, £2,338,050 in fines

(Figures for July – September 2017. Visitor numbers from VisitBritain statistics)

Income at this rate should mean flawless roads

Councils argue that parking fines income is, as required by law, ploughed back into local transport and filling in potholes. The AA argues that some London and other city councils made so much this summer from parking fines that, if this rate of income is maintained throughout the year, their roads should be flawless. The latest ALARM report, which monitors the condition of local roads, says the average annual carriageway maintenance budget shortfall per London authority is £2.5 million.

Indeed, the £2.338 million taken in parking fines by Edinburgh City Council this summer would contribute more than a tenth of the £20 million Scottish Conservatives say is needed each year to fix potholes across Scotland.

Some councils have a light touch, while others use a sledgehammer

“What is clear from the FOIs is that some councils enforced their summer car parking with a light touch, while others used a sledgehammer. Here lie the absolute fundamentals of our ‘Caught in a Trap’ campaign: the need to restore the balance between enforcement and deterrence, and the need for targeted fines that direct driver behaviour - not punish every single little mistake because it is a nice little earner for councils and private companies,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president.

Having raked in millions of pounds in parking fines during the tourist season, we fear many councils and private parking companies will do the same in the run-up to Christmas
Edmund King, AA president

“We acknowledge and welcome the fact that some councils are offering Christmas shoppers periods of free parking. However, having raked in millions of pounds in parking fines during the tourist season, we fear many councils and private parking companies will do the same in the run-up to Christmas.  

“The AA’s ‘Caught in a Trap’ campaign focuses on the enforcement of moving traffic regulations, such as bus lanes and yellow box junctions, as well as parking. It takes to task the issuing of huge numbers of PCNs, when high percentages are cancelled if challenged. This begs the question why they were issued in the first place?

When a location produces tickets by the hundreds and thousands year in and year out, the cause needs to be understood and rectified - not tapped for every pound a council or private company can get
Edmund King, AA president

“We are raising our concerns with the Secretary of State for Transport and asking for government intervention to restore fairness across a wide-range of motoring enforcement issues that plague AA members every day. When a location produces tickets by the hundreds and thousands year in and year out, the cause needs to be understood and rectified - not tapped for every pound a council or private company can get.”

Measure to make enforcement fairer and more balanced

In our letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, we set out a list of measures that can be taken to make enforcement of parking and moving traffic regulations fairer and more balanced:

  1. First time bus lane offenders should be sent a warning letter rather than a penalty notice
  2. First time yellow-box junction offenders should be sent a warning letter rather than a penalty notice
  3. It should be a condition of automated enforcement (e.g. by camera) that councils publish data – number of tickets by location, monthly
  4. The number of private parking company requests for Vehicle keeper data from DVLA should be reported by location, monthly
  5. There should be a limit on the number of tickets issued at any single location, above which enforcement activity must be suspended pending a review of the scheme’s design
  6. There should be compensation – perhaps to the value of the PCN – for drivers who win their appeals or where councils simply fail to contest them.
  7. Parking tickets that still have time on them should be transferable
  8. CO2-related residents parking permit charges should be scrapped, with permit charges based only on set-up, administration and enforcement costs.
  9. Standardisation of parking signs so that drivers can understand car park rules easily.

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