Councils are gearing up for a Christmas parking fine ‘bonanza’ to top up their coffers after a lucrative summer.
An investigation for the Daily Mail has identified several local authorities which have become ‘fine traps’ for drivers.
Figures released following a Freedom of Information Act request from the AA reveal that 50 councils hauled in more than £16 million in parking penalties over the summer. Almost 5,000 fines worth £177,000 were handed out every day on average between July and September.
A parking attendant on George Street, Edinburgh, where more tickets are handed out than on any other street in Scotland
Councils say they have to strike a balance to make sure there are spaces available for residents and traffic is kept moving
The AA’s Luke Bosdet said: ‘Our fear is that having reaped millions of pounds from summer visitors, Christmas offers an even bigger parking bonanza for councils as shoppers flood into town centres. The figures show that some councils are using parking fines as a deterrent for bad behaviour. But for others they are viewed as another income stream.’
Tourist hotspots Eastbourne (76 tickets) and Stratford on Avon (144) are examples of councils which appear to take a more forgiving approach to drivers.
Among the ‘fine traps’ named in the AA report are Winchester – which issued 2,975 tickets – and Stirling (2,893). Going out to the country is no guarantee of escape, with New Forest handing out 2,888 tickets during the summer holiday period, Arun council 3,831 and next door Chichester, at 2,861.
Unsurprisingly, the most prolific councils are based in cities.
Of the 50 councils listed, Edinburgh issued 58,994 tickets and took £2.34 million in fines between July and September. One reason it issues the most fines out of the 50 councils listed is because it enforces on-street parking as well as in car parks.
The figures were released to the AA following a Freedom of Information request
Newham London Borough in East London (56,642 tickets, £2.2million) was second, followed by Kensington & Chelsea (50,976, £2.6 million). Liverpool City Council handed out 18,948 tickets, collecting £607,319, while Birmingham City Council dished out 32,991, collecting £1.1 million.
A recent study found English councils made a record £819 million from parking charges and fines in 2016/17 – a 10 per cent increase on the previous financial year. Although this money has to be ploughed back into transport there are fears that some cash-strapped councils see parking as an easy way to raise extra cash.
The level of parking fines varies but can range between £60 in Stirling to up to £130 for more serious infringements in Kensington & Chelsea. Councils typically offer a 50 per cent discount if the fine is paid within 14 days.
Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said money raised through on-street parking charges and fines was spent on parking services – with any surplus spent on essential transport projects.
Despite this, councils were facing a £12 billion funding shortfall for vital road repairs.
Mr Tett said: ‘While councils are on the side of motorists, they have to strike a balance when setting parking policy… to make sure there are spaces available for residents, high streets are kept vibrant and traffic is kept moving.’