by Matt Stott
Thursday, February 28, 2013
MOTORISTS have been forced to pay more than £2million in parking fines in the last five years – prompting campaigners to warn drivers should not be treated “as cash cows”.
But last night a senior councillor defended the figures, claiming unsafe parking needs to be penalised to protect people’s safety and make the town more attractive to help boost business.
The figures, revealed under Freedom of Information laws, show 71,858 on and off-street parking tickets were issued between 2007/8 and 2011/12, costing drivers £2,215,356.
Councillor Phil Smart, transport portfolio holder, said: “Parking fines help make the town more attractive, so unsafe and anti-social parking needs to be penalised.
“We are not getting rich through this. It helps fund council services and relieves pressure on council tax. Parking fine powers are not being abused.”
Traffic wardens handed out 13,196 tickets in 2011/12, generating £391,821 for council revenues – the lowest sum and ticket tally of the last five financial years.
The highest was in 2009/10, when 16,276 tickets were issued, raking in £511,275.
Under the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act, councils are not allowed to use parking as a fiscal measure to raise revenue, but have the powers to enforce parking restrictions to ease the flow of traffic, ensure the safety of drivers and pedestrians and preserve or improve the area.
But Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, warned motorists should not be viewed as “cash cows”.
He said: “For many councils parking fines have become a lucrative source of income.
“But while revenues are being made at the cost of the motorist, taxpayers haven’t seen their council tax fall, or their local services improve.”
In October, the Star revealed the council was owed £123,955.50 in unpaid parking fines in 2012 – a huge rise from £1,849.99 in 2008.
In October 2005 parking enforcement was decriminalised, giving Ipswich Borough Council the power to enforce restrictions within the borough.
An Ipswich Borough Council spokesman said: “People are given penalty notices when they park illegally. If they park properly and legally they will not face a charge.”