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Councils using parking laws to raise money 'a myth'

The idea local councils deliberately set out to trap drivers who break parking laws as a means of raising funds is "a myth", according to a campaign group for local authorities.

Councillor Peter Box, chair of the Local Government Association's Economy and Transport Board, said:

It is frustratingly familiar to hear Big Brother Watch again peddling the myth that councils are enforcing parking regulations just to raise money.

However, it is wholly inaccurate and misleading for them to claim councils are alone in warning about the dangers of banning the use of CCTV for parking enforcement.

Road safety campaigners, schools, disability and pedestrian charities and councils have all come together to warn the Government that banning CCTV parking enforcement will put school children and disabled pedestrians at risk and worsen road safety.

– Peter Box

Govt: CCTV used to raise money 'in industrial volumes'

The Government has weighed into the debate over the use of CCTV to capture drivers' breaking parking laws, accusing local councils of using the technology to raise money "in industrial volumes".

Brandon Lewis, the Minister for Local Government, said:

It is clear that CCTV is being used to raise money in industrial volumes for town halls, breaking the constitutional principle that fines should not be used as a source of revenue.

Unreasonable parking charges and fines push up hard-working people's cost of living...That's why the Government intends to clampdown on this clear abuse and misuse of parking CCTV.

The public want to see CCTV being used to catch criminals not to persecute shoppers and hard-working people.

– Brandon Lewis

Read: Councils accused of using CCTV to raise parking fines

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Councils accused of using CCTV to raise parking fines

Councils are using CCTV to capture parking violations and generate fines, according to civil liberties groups.

Read: Police drones trial at Gatwick Airport meets with fierce criticism

CCTV
Campaigners accused councils of using CCTV to raise parking fines, not stop crime. Credit: PA

Read: CCTV shows hapless 'robber' undone by bank heist haste

According to data released to Big Brother Watch via Freedom of Information requests, at least 36 local authorities are using static CCTV to capture traffic violations, and some 58 councils use CCTV cars.

London boroughs accounted for around 90% or £285 million of revenues raised through CCTV cameras, Big Brother Watch said. The top five highest revenue-raising councils were Camden, Ealing, Lambeth, Westminster and Harrow.

A Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, published by the Government, highlights the need to use CCTV for traffic offences "sparingly", the campaigners said.

Read: Councils make '£594m in profit' from parking charges

Council revokes parking ticket for first-aid motorist

Bristol City Council has cancelled a parking ticket issued to a driver who pulled over into a loading bay to help an injured cyclist.

Mrs Young had pulled into a restricted parking zone to help a stricken cyclist.
Mrs Young had pulled into a restricted parking zone to help a stricken cyclist. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Janet Young gave first aid to a cyclist in Church Road, St George, Bristol, who had clipped a pavement and fallen off his bike.

Mrs Young, a receptionist from Bristol, said she would do the same again despite having received a parking ticket.

Mrs Young's parking ticket was overturned after she appealed to Bristol City Council
Mrs Young's parking ticket was overturned after she appealed to Bristol City Council. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire/Press Association Images

"I think anyone would, of course we would, its just [instinctive] to help someone in need," she told the BBC.

Mrs Young's car was caught on camera by a parking enforcement vehicle, "so they would have seen the accident", she said.

Mrs Young said she would do the same again despite receiving the parking ticket.
Mrs Young said she would do the same again despite receiving the parking ticket. Credit: IAN NICHOLSON/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The parking ticket was overturned after Mrs Young lodged an appeal with the council.

A council spkeswoman said its parking wardens "have to follow the letter of the law" when issuing penalties, but added: "Appeals are considered sympathetically in certain circumstances, providing there is evidence."

Patients' relatives face parking charges of £3 a hour

A special Daybreak investigation has revealed how some hospitals are charging as much as £3 per hour for parking.

Parking charges
Daybreak has found drivers using hospital parking are likely to be charged between £2.50-£3 per hour. Credit: PA

Loved ones visiting their sick relatives at London's Royal Free are forced to cough up £3 every hour they leave their car in the hospital car park.

Hospitals outside of London were not much cheaper - Cambridge university hospitals foundation trust charge £2.60 for the first hour.

The Northern Lincolnshire and Goole hospitals both charge £2.50 for the first hour.

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AA: 'Very easy to break rules' in private car parks

An unregulated private parking enforcement industry and private land makes it "very easy to break the rules" because "drivers don't notice the signs", the AA's Head of Public Affairs told Daybreak.

Paul Watters suggested drivers were not at fault as some had been caught out because they "slept longer than they were allowed to" before getting back on the road.

Private parking companies may send threatening letters, but only the courts could force a driver to pay up, Mr Watters added.

"Really it is a court that can make you pay. That is all that can happen," Mr Watters explained.

AA: Rise in penalties caused by wheel clamp ban

With clamps no longer an option now in England and Wales it was inevitable that the number of parking charge notices (private parking tickets) would increase, the AA has said.

However, the car insurance firm criticised the "unregulated" private parking enforcement industry, which they blamed for the frequent use of penalties.

We are pleased that after decades of clamper extortion their practices have largely been consigned to history.

However, private parking enforcement remains unregulated and is a free-for-all when even firms signed up to a code of practice breach their own rules. It seems many of the notorious clampers have moved their sharp practices to private parking enforcement.

– AA president Edmund King

Diabetic fined after oversleeping 'slightly' while parked

According to the AA parking penalties are becoming a problem and these two cases highlight why:

  • A diabetic who slept slightly beyond the two-hour limit at a deserted motorway service area in the early hours after having concerns about his blood sugar level.
  • Despite obtaining a doctor's certificate, his appeal was rejected by the parking firm, which also said he could pay the £60 by monthly instalments although he said this would cause hardship.
  • Another AA member in London was threatened with a £160 parking ticket which breached the £100 maximum recommended by the British Parking Association's code, to which the enforcement firm was signed up.

Drivers punished by high penalty parking charges

Ticket
Penalties given out in private car parks are too expensive, say AA. Credit: PA

Banning wheel clampers has not made parking an less dear on drivers as they are now subject to automated "penalty" tickets when they break the rules in a car park, the AA has said.

Last year wheel clamping was banned from operating in private car parks but 12 months on parking enforcement firms are still issuing tickets.

The AA said private parking operators now rely heavily on CCTV and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to watch drivers and issue tickets through the post when they put a foot wrong in parking areas.

Complaints against private firms posting penalties which arrived a few days after the alleged offence were coming thick and fast, the car insurer said.

Edinburgh and the south coast of England were the worst offenders.

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