Parking fines just the ticket for cash-strapped councils

More than half of drivers say parking in their nearest town or city is more difficult now than in 2008

The annoying ticket wrapped in cellophane that you find under the windscreen wiper of the car you parked in a strange town just might be a council official's cunning way of reducing the impact of government cuts.

As the Government reduces councils' funding, threatening local services, traffic wardens are out in greater numbers while free parking spaces are harder to find, Freedom of Information figures have shown. The result is that millions of fines are making a nice little earner for councils. While other council services are stretched and police are facing cuts in manpower, the number of traffic wardens – or Civil Enforcement Officers, to give them their correct title – is rising. Today there are 6 per cent more officers than in 2008 and one council in 10 has enlarged its battalion of traffic wardens by at least a fifth.

At the same time, 17 per cent of councils have increased the number of paid parking zones, cutting back the number of free parking spaces, according to figures obtained by the motor insurance firm LV. The volume of traffic has been increasing over the years until this spring, when a combination of wet weather and high fuel prices helped bring it down slightly. There are an estimated 36 million drivers, 15 per cent more than there were 10 years ago.

More than half – 57 per cent – of drivers said that parking in their nearest town and city has become more difficult since 2008, with only 7 per cent saying it is now easier. Nearly one in five admitted to resorting to parking illegally and risking a fine as a result over the past year. One motorist in 10 has had a parking fine in the past 12 months, earning local councils £532m – an average of £96 from each driver they have caught.

There are now 20 officers on average employed by each council in England and Wales – or 58 in the average London borough. In Westminster, there are 242, the highest number in the country. Local Government Minister Bob Neill said: "There is no excuse for town halls using parking fines and motorists as cash cows. There are plenty of other ways for councils to raise extra income or make savings like better procurement and sharing back-office services.

"We want to see councils use parking to support the high street and help their local shops prosper. That's why we have ended the last government's requirements to limit spaces, push up parking charges and encourage aggressive parking enforcement."

John O'Roarke, managing director of LV, said: "The lack of free parking is putting increasing pressure on cash-strapped motorists and many are resorting to parking illegally."

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Life and Style
i100

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Nursery assistants required in Cambridge

    £10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

    Year 4 Teacher

    £20000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...

    English Teacher Thetford Secondary

    £110 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: An Academy based in Thetfor...

    Year 1 Teacher

    £100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work at ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week