Councils reap benefits of illegal parking

Mark Rowe examines the 'urban myth' of ticket targets

THE motorist's enemy - the parking attendant - is so zealous in his efforts that London's drivers paid pounds 120m in fines last year. More than 3.5 million tickets were issued in Greater London - one for each car in the capital.

The revenue from fines for parking on double yellow lines, in permit- only areas and at expired meters is providing some local authorities with bumper sums to fill their coffers, with one council generating pounds 27m.

The intensity of the clampdown on illegal parking is reflected in the fact that, according to the RAC, there are just 2.3 million registered drivers in London. This rises to 3.5 million when commuters and tourists are included. One in three drivers in London is likely to receive a fine each year.

If issuing parking tickets were an Olympic sport, Westminster City Council in London would be displaying a clutch of gold medals in its town hall. Last year it issued 807,030 tickets, amounting to more than a tenth of all parking tickets handed out each year in Britain. The evangelical zeal with which Westminster pursues its ticketing policy was highlighted when it dispatched a bailiff 50 miles to Sittingbourne in Kent to pursue an unclaimed ticket.

As far as parking tickets are concerned, London's boroughs lead the country in terms of volume, with many councils outside the capital relying on police to issue tickets. In the West Midlands, 194,000 tickets were issued. In London, Westminster not only issued more than 800,000 tickets, it also clamped 23,304 vehicles. Other high-octane ticket issuers include Camden (261,208 tickets); Kensington and Chelsea (221,087); Hammersmith and Fulham (135,336); Ealing (114,061) and Waltham Forest (112,972).

At the other end of the scale, Barking and Dagenham (22,344), Havering (29,220) and Kingston (39,982) would seem safer places to park on a yellow line.

Parking tickets can bring in handsome sums of money. Westminster received pounds 27m last year, Kensington and Chelsea pounds 7.5m, Camden pounds 5.4m and Hammersmith and Fulham pounds 4.9m. The money is used to improve roads and public transport and is ring-fenced, preventing it from being used to subsidise other services or lower council tax.

The vast sums often at stake have prompted accusations that councils seek to maximise income by setting contractors targets for how many tickets they should issue, a claim fiercely denied by Westminster.

"It is absolutely not the case," said a spokesman. "Wardens issue tickets when they see an infringement. They are given no incentives to do so. Our level of ticket enforcement reflects the number of offences committed."

Despite denials, there remains widespread suspicion that some London councils do set targets.

"If they're private contractors then I'm sure it's the case some have been offered incentives to issue more tickets," said a spokesman for Hammersmith and Fulham council.

"We're not out to make huge sums, unlike other boroughs who are more professional about it. Our annual budget is pounds 183m, so while tickets give us a sizeable sum we could make much more if we wanted."

Another suspicion is that councils are now so confident they can receive a certain sum in revenue from parking tickets that they apply to banks to receive the amount in advance in the form of a loan. Hammersmith and Fulham says that it does not do this.

A spokesman for the Transport Committee for London, which oversees parking enforcement, defended the soaring levels of tickets. "It's nothing to do with one council being more enthusiastic than another. There's revenue in it for them, although others don't make any money.

"It's an urban myth that councils offer incentives. The rates are in proportion to the number of cars coming through with no place to park. That's why a tiny area like the Corporation of London issues 100,000 tickets. It's law enforcement. In an ideal world we wouldn't issue any tickets."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick