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One in five drivers 'now paying for formerly free space'

Some 22% of drivers have had to start paying for a parking spot that was once free, a survey from a national car insurer has found.

According to the RAC:

  • Some 24% said traffic wardens were now more active in their area.
  • In addition, 41% of motorists believed that the local authority where they lived used the revenue from parking charges to subsidise other areas of non-motoring expenditure.
  • A total 65% of motorists reported even when they finally find a space to park, it was too small for today's breed of cars, many of which are wider than previous generations of vehicle because of the addition of side-impact protection features.

Motorists 'feeling the pinch' from parking charges

Motorists are feeling the pinch on the cost of parking, with four out of five drivers reporting price hikes in town and cities, the RAC has found.

Motorists blame the rise in parking charges for making a trip to town more expensive. Credit: PA

The car insurer said 67% of the 1,526 drivers it spoke to believed parking was more sparse in their home town or city centre and restrictions had tightened.

Drivers pointed to parking charges pushing up the cost of a trip to town.

The RAC added London motorists, in particular, had "felt the pain" of increased parking costs, with 59% finding high street parking was hitting their pocket more.

RAC technical director David Bizley said: "Councils should be compelled to report where the money raised from parking goes - giving drivers assurance that it is being ploughed back into road and transport improvements, rather than just plugging budget holes elsewhere."

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'Spy cars' ban to rein in 'greedy councils'

Banning CCTV cameras on cars will stop "greedy" councils using the method as a "cash cow", Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said.

Nine million parking fines are estimated to be handed out by local councils in England every year, generating £1.3 billion in revenue in 2010, and Mr Pickles believes too many parking tickets were being issued for the "wrong reasons".

Eric Pickles speaking to ITV News. Credit: ITV News

"CCTV spy cars can be seen lurking on every street raking in cash for greedy councils and breaking the rules that clearly state that fines should not be used to generate profit for town halls," the MP said.

"Over-zealous parking enforcement and unreasonable stealth fines by post undermine the high street, push up the cost of living and cost local authorities more in the long term.

"Today the Government is taking urgently needed action to ban this clear abuse of CCTV, which should be used to catch criminals, and not as a cash cow."

Parking guidance to be less 'heavy-handed'

Along with banning CCTV "spy cars" for parking enforcement, other proposals announced by the Government include:

  • Trialling a 25% discount for drivers who lose an appeal against a ticket at tribunal
  • Allowing local residents and firms to demand a review of parking in their area
  • Reforming parking guidance to make it less "heavy-handed" with motorists
  • Maintaining a freeze on parking penalty charges for the remainder of parliament

Govt to ban use of CCTV 'spy cars' for parking fines

Councils will no longer be able to use CCTV "spy cars" to catch drivers who park illegally, as the Government attempts to prevent "over-zealous" enforcement.

Eric Pickles said he wanted to end the 'plague' of parking tickets by post. Credit: PA

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the announcement would outlaw the use of the vehicles as a "money-raising tool for councils" and end the "plague" of parking tickets by post.

The ban on CCTV, both fixed cameras and on cars, will become law through the Deregulation Bill, following a three-month consultation on the issue.

Cameras will still be used to enforce restrictions in bus lanes, on red routes and outside schools.

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

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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

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.

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

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.

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. 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. 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. 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."

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