Motorists Treated As "Cash Cows"

Councils make millions of pounds from parking fines

Millions of pounds are being raised by local councils on parking fines, according to a new study by the TaxPayers' Alliance.

The survey shows that nationally, councils made a total of £328million from on-street and off-street parking fines in 2008-09. Locally, Wandsworth council collected £10,145,653 in parking fines in 2007-8 and £8,053,274 in 2008-9.

Peter Roberts, Chief Executive at the Drivers' Alliance, said: “Parking enforcement has become a massive money making industry and we are seeing unscrupulous and target-driven enforcement of parking laws where the penalties far outweigh the offence. This report shows that some local authorities are treating drivers unfairly and cashing in on parking fines.”

The national figure for 2008-9 is actually a 16 percent decrease on the amount made on parking fines in 2007-8, which was £379million. The Taxpayers' Alliance say that although it is not clear why there has been such a large drop, the recession could have made motorists more cautious about incurring charges such as parking fines. However, it is also not clear why the amount raised in Hammersmith and Fulham has gone up, bucking the national trend.

Jennifer Dunn, Policy Analyst with the Drivers' Alliance and the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
“For many councils parking fines have become a lucrative source of income. Motorists are being treated like cash cows, but the only people that appear to be benefiting are wardens and their bosses.”

Under the Road Traffic Act 1991 local authorities were permitted to assume responsibility for on-street and off-street parking enforcement, a power until then held exclusively by the police. In return local authorities were permitted to keep all proceeds generated. Any surplus income from parking enforcement is ring fenced for local transportation improvement and – under the Traffic Management Act 2004 – local environment improvements. However local authorities rated as high performing (4 star) have the freedom to spend the surplus in any way they wish.

The amount collected by Wandsworth in 2008-9 is the sixth highest in London, coming after Westminster (£35,410,000), K&C (£12,881,864), Islington (£10,706,295), Lambeth (£8,792,329), & Newham (£8,662,934).

November 27, 2009