MILLIONS of motorists could be hit by higher parking fines as councils try to force the Government in to relaxing legislation, it emerged yesterday.
Town halls have told MPs that they want an end to restrictions on how they spend takings from the fines. Currently the vast sums of cash can be spent only on transport.
But if local authorities can persuade the Government to relax these rules, they could hike fines in order to use revenue on other projects.
Worried motoring groups warned that, at a time when town halls are being urged to freeze council tax levels, they could be tempted to raise more and more revenue by punishing the already struggling motorist.
Business leaders also warned that if councils bring in less and less free parking, town centre retailers will once again be hit by a dip in trade – at a time when they need help amid the economic turndown.
The British Retail Consortium said: “Banning free parking is exactly the opposite of what our beleaguered high streets need. Local authorities should be treating parking as a service and not as a revenue raiser.”
The call for a relaxation to the rules – also giving councils the green light to bring in even more revenue from parking fines – came in a submission to MPs by the Local Government Association on behalf of the 327 local authorities who control parking on their streets.
It argued: “The LGA has long argued against ring-fencing of particular funds for specific purposes as this limits councils’ ability to make the most appropriate choices for their areas.”
Currently, councils are not allowed to cash in on the money they make from motorists.
Any surplus must be spent on transport projects such as road repairs.
Also, the British Parking Association, which represents private sector firms that issue penalty charges and pursues those who fail to pay them, has called for penalties to be raised every four years.
Charges are capped currently at £70 outside London and at £140 cap within the capital.
However, MPs are aware that any increases would be unlikely to go down well with the voting public.
Councils in England are making more than £400million profit a year from on and off-street parking.
Just a few weeks ago, Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, called on councils to end what he described as the “over zealous culture of parking enforcement” which he said was damaging the high street.
Last year Mary Portas, the Government’s high street adviser, also called for affordable parking to breathe life into town centres.
One good thing that could come out of this is councils such as Westminster and Camden may instruct their wardens to finally start ticketing the lines of minicabs illegally plying for hire at places like Regent Street and Swallow Street. NSL have been seen to be a disgrace by having a policy of refusing to ticket the illegally park cars in this area of central London.
NSL TAXI LICENSING
How come this company won the contract to inspect Taxis and cars for licensing on behalf of LTPH, when they have been shown to be biased I favour of private hire many times in the past couple of years.
While we are on the subject, there still has been no word from LTPH on the extra £52 overcharged to 2,000 Taxi owners for inspections to vehicles in April. Also approx 5,500 minicab PHVs were also overcharged that month. LTPH are staying tight lipped on this one, just another reason why we need a Parliamentary inquiry into TfL as soon as possible. I believe the BBC are also interested in this issue besides the forged Badges and Bills.
LTPH are no different than the corrupt Brazilian national Marcos Gurgel, who fraudulently charged Taxi drivers in cash for their bill renewals.