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Local council snouts in parking trough

[5 Nov 2013] In fresh calls to tame the growing scourge of parking penalties on local-authority owned land – yes, councils have their snouts in the trough as well as private firms – a House of Commons Select Committee has issued a damning report on local authorities’ shady practices over parking:

As a result, Plain Language Commission, which has highlighted the opaque wording on parking signs (see ‘Articles’ on our website), will be writing to the prime minister to ask why local authority bosses who continue to flout the law in the ways shown in the report have not been prosecuted.

Councils in England and Wales issue about eight million parking penalty notices a year, so it’s become a big moneymaker for many of them. The report says every local authority should publish an annual parking report to show precisely where their parking revenues come from and how any income is being used. Launching the report from its recent inquiry into local authority parking enforcement in England, Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Committee said: 

‘Parking enforcement is necessary for managing demand on the roads[;] however, the use of parking charges and fines specifically to raise revenue by local authorities is neither acceptable NOR LEGAL [our caps].’ (The illegality has been well established for many years, as was reiterated in a recent judicial review of Barnet Council’s revenue-raising practices.)

Ellman went on: ‘Yet there is a deep-rooted public perception that parking enforcement is used as a cash cow, so it’s essential that local authorities apply stringent transparency. Annual parking accounts would allow the public to see how much local revenue is derived from the enforcement of fines, and what proportion of this comes from on or off street parking charges.

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