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News & views

Parking rip-offs – an update

[16 Aug 2013] In our article (click here), we showed how councils were extorting vast sums from motorists to fill holes in their balance sheets. Drivers often fall foul of unclear signs and petty rules that induce them to make mistakes, leading to parking and other fines.

When a road system is so badly designed that it creates thousands of money-raising contraventions, highway authorities have no incentive to redesign it. Panorama showed this on 12 June 2013 when it highlighted the 30,000 contraventions a year at the Bagley’s Lane box junction in Hammersmith and Fulham, which raked in £2million in fines.

The High Court has now ruled that a residents’ parking scheme imposed by Barnet Council in 2011 was illegal because it was designed to raise revenue to fill gaps in the council’s budget rather than help meet the reasonable costs of traffic management and control. Barnet is expected to appeal the decision, which forms an important precedent because many councils, particularly in London, have been illegally using parking fines to raise revenue for some years.

It’s hard to see how, if Barnet’s scam is illegal, Hammersmith’s dodgy box junction is any better. Motorists are being used as cash cows by officials. Yet there seems no appetite for investigating whether the people responsible should be prosecuted.

In her Barnet ruling on 22 July, Mrs Justice Lang said councils were not allowed to use charges as a source of general income, even if the money was intended to pay for other transport schemes.

The case was brought by local resident David Attfield, who objected to the prices charged for residents’ and visitors’ permits in the controlled parking zone in which he lived. The price of a resident’s permit was jacked up from £40 to £100 a year and visitors’ charges raised from £1 a day to [cont]

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