Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Jam up the system by appealing

lots of trees get turned into parking tickets and letters of appeal
Here is a lightly edited copy of an article which first appeared in the Telegraph where you can read the entire article.

Councils handed out 250,000 more parking tickets last year despite cutting the number of traffic wardens by 5 per cent, research has found. In Barnet, this is called "Putting the Community First". Tickets issued up by nearly 4%.

A total of 6.8 million parking tickets were handed out in 2011, according to information covering 71 city councils. An immense number. Parking tickets have nothing to do any longer with keeping traffic flowing, or rationing space, they are simply a cash generating machine.

This is a quarter of a million more penalties than were given the previous year. Did this increase happen by accident? Did motorists suddenly get worse at parking? No, the councils decided to issue more tickets.

A shortage of town-centre parking and increased use of CCTV technology to spot illegally parked cars were behind the increase in fines and clamping, according to insurance company Swiftcover.com

The fines generated at least £234 million in revenue for local councils, the company said. An average of £34 per ticket issued.

Although it is illegal for local authorities to use parking fines specifically to bolster their coffers, the extra funds have come at a good time for councils as they have had their budgets from central government cut by an average of 7 per cent a year until 2014. What a happy coincidence.

According to Swiftcover.com an average of 74,257 fines were handed out by each local council last year, almost 2,000 more than they gave in 2010. However the 71 city councils gave out about 95,000 each. Barnet Council issue about 160,000 parking tickets every year so are being far too aggressive in their approach and I fear that this is getting worse as I have just heard of a ticket being knowingly given to a broken down vehicle. Don't hassle the warden but write in to Barnet Council and complain about their contractor NSL.

The rise came despite the number of traffic wardens across the councils falling from just under 3,900 to 3,700. Traffic wardens will not have suddenly decided to dish out more tickets. They will have been leant on to do so, either subtly or otherwise.

Robin Reames, chief claims officer at Swiftcover.com, said that shortage of parking has become a “huge issue” in towns and cities across the UK in the past five to ten years. This is not the problem in Barnet. There is loads of parking space because the change to pay-by-phone has caused behavioural change and visitors are going elsewhere where they can pout cash or card into a machine.

However, he said that this does not excuse illegal parking. Nor do I.

“Although it might be an easy option to park on a double yellow for a short time, it’s potentially dangerous as well as being illegal, and can result in a fine,” he said.

An increase in the number of fines led to an increase in the number of disputes by motorists. If everybody challenged every ticket we could make it too expensive to issue one and the council would think again.

While 1.67 million fines were disputed in 2010, this rose to 1.76 million in 2011. This means that one in four parking tickets were queried by drivers. Come on you can do better than that. Let's get that 1 in 4 figure up. An extra 250,000 tickets led to another 90,000 appeals. We are reaching the critical point where extra tickets equals extra work and no extra income.

Of the disputed tickets, four in ten ended up being dropped by the council. Look at that. A 40% that an appeal will cancel your ticket. It has to be worth a quick letter.

Motorists had dramatically different success rates when they questioned tickets depending on where they lived.  The survey found that only 11 per cent of fines were dropped on appeal in Bradford. However this rose to 72 per cent in Chichester.
Could we get Barnet to cancel 72% of tickets? It's worth a bash.

The council already has to deal with 600,000 pieces of correspondence every year. Can we make it a million?

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance.

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