Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Parking Fines set to Soar

...according to the Telegraph . Philip Hammond must be regretting his speech about 'ending the war on the motorist', as the fiscal reality of parking enforcement is thrown into sharp focus by the need to cut costs.

Some councils are apparently losing money on parking enforcement. So adopting the far-from-unreasonable principle that enforcement must be paid for out of the fines collected, either enforcement needs to become more efficient (which would likely mean more parking tickets) or the fines need to increase, or somehow the cost of enforcement needs to go down. Given that parking enforcement is generally contracted out, the latter option is not in the control of local authorities until the contract is up for renewal (perhaps depending on the commercial terms).

The option of not enforcing parking restrictions would clearly be problematic. Maybe a council should try it, and people (like Oona King) who like to moan about parking tickets would find out that irresponsible parking causes chaos in a whole area in pretty short order. That would be an interesting excercise, but it would also kill people as emergency services would be unable to do their job.

However, it does seem rather unfair that a parking ticket should attract a fine of £140, whereas a speeding ticket only £60. The principle of  'the offender pays' should be extended to other motoring offences, should it not? If it's unfair that the council-tax payer should have to subsidize parking enforcement, why is it fair that the same taxpayer subsidizes enforcement of laws that are much more important in safety terms? While some parking can be dangerous (for example where it obstructs emergency service access), in general it's just an annoyance. And if you're a cyclist, you notice that parking is very often allowed in cycle lanes, where it causes more danger than perhaps anywhere else.

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