Local councils accused of encouraging motorist fines

In a shocking report today it has been claimed that numerous local councils across the UK have been encouraging traffic wardens to fine motorists in order to attain their targets and make more money for their constituencies. According to Adam Shaw, who investigated the matter for the Panorama programme, councils are looking for new ways to help traffic wardens issue more fixed penalty notices including the use of CCTV footage.

Mr Shaw went on to say that the amount of drivers on the road in the UK has increased by thirty per cent over the past twenty years, and that the amount of fines has also increased by this amount. The Panorama show, aptly names Traffic Fines – Highway Robbery, will also look into one case where a driver from Hammersmith and Fulham requested email exchanges from his local authority as part of the Freedom of Information act in order to find out more about their stance on the matter after he was issued a ticket.

Talking on the BBC Radio Four Today’s programme, Mr Shaw said that these emails showed: “They [local councils] not only talk of financial targets, they appear to show some officials getting concerned when the number of tickets fall. One email read ‘a worrying start as penalty charge notices seem to reduce’. Councils are making a land grab for power. They are pitching themselves in battle against drivers.” At the same time there have been reports that even though motorists now have the opportunity to appeal against fixed penalty notices issued when parking on private property in London many are afraid to do so.

According to AA president Edmund King, motorists are concerned that by appealing they will lose the opportunity to pay a reduced amount during the initial fourteen days of being issued their fine. He added: “Motorists are worried they will lose the discount so they pay up. But they feel they have been penalised unfairly.” Some motorists may also be concerned that their car insurance premiums will increase if they appeal against their fine and fail, especially as most of the time the issue is unclear parking signs in the London area.

Mr King added: “I think there is a need for clarity about signage. Despite numerous reviews and amendments to traffic sign regulations confusion over signs remains one of the biggest triggers of Penalty Charge Notice issue. The AA is very concerned that the traffic signs review may lead to more local variation in parking signing.”

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