CHANGES: Parking should be more transparent
Councils should be forced to publish annual parking reports to show precisely where revenues come from and how income is utilised, MPs have insisted.
Launching a report from a recent Transport Committee inquiry investigating local authority parking enforcement in England, Louise Ellman, Chair, called for greater transparency.
Annual parking reports would be tasked to explain how each authority measures performance in relation to parking enforcement activity and parking compliance.
“Parking enforcement is necessary for managing demand on the roads; however, the use of parking charges and fines specifically to raise revenue by local authorities is neither acceptable nor legal,” said Ms Ellman.
“Yet there is a deep-rooted public perception that parking enforcement is used as a cash cow, so it’s essential that local authorities apply stringent transparency.
“Annual parking accounts would allow the public to see how much local revenue is derived from the enforcement of fines, and what proportion of this come from on or off street parking charges.
“It’s right that parking charges be determined locally, but hard to justify fines that substantially exceed penalties for more serious offences like speeding.”
The report recommends freezing the maximum penalty charge for parking offences and the development of differential fines for less serious violations.
Ms Ellman also advocated a five minute ‘grace period’ after ticket expiry and a 25% discount for motorists who pay within seven days of losing an appeal.
Councils currently offer a 50% discount if motorists pay their penalty charge within 14days, but remove this benefit from motorists who appeal to a tribunal.
“Motorists should also not have to appeal against PCNs where tribunal adjudicators have repeatedly identified a problem such as poor signage,” she added.
“Local authorities must resolve these sorts of problems and government must impose a statutory requirement on them to refund monies received from invalid PCNs of this kind.
“It is also unacceptable that enforcement regimes effectively force some companies to incur Penalty Charge Notices costing hundreds of thousands of pounds a year for carrying out their business.
“While businesses cannot be completely exempt from parking restrictions, local authorities must ensure that the need to restrict parking and manage congestion does not stifle the ability of businesses to trade and help grow the economy.”
The Transport Committee also recommend that councils work with local businesses to develop innovative parking solutions, while the government develop potential business rates relief schemes.
They also recommended the government hold a discussion with hauliers and councils to identify and disseminate innovative ways of dealing with conflicts between delivery needs and parking controls.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) – who submitted evidence to the committee during the consultation – welcomed the report.
James Hookham, Managing Director of Policy and Communications at the FTA, said: “FTA is delighted that its voice has been heard on behalf of its members.
“We told the Transport Committee that the Traffic Management Act (TMA) was in need of fundamental review; the Committee’s recommendation to the government to hold a roundtable discussion with road hauliers and local authorities has to be a step in the right direction.
“Whilst reducing congestion is important, there needs to be a balance, and good provision for deliveries is essential in order to support local businesses.”