PARKING laws could be relaxed amid fears town halls are using fines as a “cash cow” while their budgets are being squeezed.
Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said he will consider whether local councils should be forced to give motorists a five-minute grace period after their ticket runs out, to prevent sharp practices among certain parking wardens who issue fines within moments of a meter clicking on.
Mr Goodwill is also considering whether drivers who unsuccessfully appeal against a parking ticket should be offered a 25 per cent discount if they pay their fine within seven days of the verdict, amid concern the current system of ‘prompt-pay discounts’ actually deters people from appealing unfair fines.
“There is a real problem with the public’s view of local authorities’ approach to parking and traffic enforcement,” the Minister admitted. “We are considering whether mandating a grace period of perhaps five minutes after the end of paid-for parking might provide the public with reassurance that they will never be issued with a ticket just one minute after the meter runs out.”
The amount of money town halls rake in from parking fines and charges varies dramatically from area to area, depending on the different approaches taken by different councils around the country.
Leeds City Council is one of the highest-earning in England, pocketing almost £6.25m from parking fines and charges over the past year - more than any other council in Yorkshire.
By contrast, Sheffield City Council made just £1.6m from parking fines and charges. Wakefield profited by £1m.
At the bottom of the regional table is Doncaster - still one of Yorkshire’s largest towns - which profited by just £117,000 over the course of the 2012/13 financial year.