Britain loses millions of pounds over parking tickets

Friday, December 31, 2010

LONDON - Councils across Britain wrote off thousands of parking tickets worth millions of pounds as they cannot trace drivers of foreign-registered vehicles they have been issued to, a media report said.

A range of 20 councils and police forces across Britain which had passenger and freight ferry terminals, ports and other major transport hubs near or in their area responded to a freedom of information request.

Among the highest value of tickets written off were areas, including London, Portsmouth, Newcastle and Edinburgh, reports Daily Mail.

Westminster City Council said that between July 2007 and October this year, 45,437 tickets worth 3.08 million pounds were written off in parking fines to foreign-registered vehicles as the driver could not be traced, and 3.2 million pounds is still owed.

Lee Rowley, the council’s cabinet member for parking, said: “British taxpayers can no longer foot the bill for foreign motorists who seem to think the rules of this country do not apply to them.

“We would like to see a more rigorous system put in place to hold these drivers to account and send a clear message that this blatant disregard of the law will not be tolerated.”

Portsmouth City Council said between April 2008 and Oct 31 this year, 110,965 pounds was written off in parking fines for foreign-registered vehicles.

The council said: “On the expiry of a penalty charge notice (28 days) the DVLA will advise registered keeper details and if they are overseas and outside Portsmouth City Council jurisdiction, then Portsmouth City Council cancels or writes off the amount.”

Newcastle City Council said that 84,470 pounds had been written off in unpaid tickets between April 2008 and Dec 6 this year.

Other councils said they either did not hold the details or a search of their records would exceed limits under freedom of information requests.

Edinburgh City Council said parking tickets to foreign-registered vehicles worth 233,993.70 pounds were written off in the 2008-09 financial year.

The council’s parking operations department also said 211,051 pounds in parking tickets issued to foreign-registered vehicles was written off between April 2009 and Oct 1 this year after drivers could not be traced and tickets were not paid.

A spokeswoman said: “There are a number of reasons why a parking ticket could be written off. It could be because the driver cannot be traced, it could also be because signs or road markings were missing, or it could be because the parking attendant made a mistake during the ticket issue.”

“Local authorities will carry on losing money and struggle to enforce parking tickets against foreign-registered vehicles until the Government sets up working arrangements with other European countries to share ownership data,” the Mail reported Friday quoting Bill Blakemore, director of the Sparks Network, an association of public authorities that campaigns for more effective cross-border traffic enforcement.

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