Parking cartoon

Cost of enforcement exceeds fines

Thursday, November 22, 2012
10.38 AM

The issuing of parking tickets in East Devon could lose £3.6million of taxpayers’ cash over four years.

A recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Journal has revealed the financial cost of traffic wardens, since parking enforcement was transferred from the police to the district council in spring 2008.

But East Devon District Council (EDDC) bosses insist that parking enforcement is not seen as a ‘cash cow’, and is vital to avoid parking chaos.

Last week’s Journal revealed that EDDC’s Civil Enforcement Officers spend almost half the week in Exmouth.

And since 2008 almost half of the 9,378 tickets, or Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued in East Devon’s seven towns have been in Exmouth.

But the figures also show the massive cost; in the financial year 2008/2009, wages and administration costs totalled approximately £1.1million, but fines added up to just £230,500.

In 2010/2011, costs were £1.19million with fines totalling £268,467.

Over three years the scheme has led to a deficit of £2.76million; and once this year’s figures are calculated, it is is set to rise to £3.6million.

PCNs are split between street parking, with fines going to county hall, and car parks, run by EDDC.

A district council spokesman said that although PCNs held a maximum possible fine of £70, because most people paid promptly the fines were often either £25 or £35.

He added: “We deploy our parking enforcement staff proportionately throughout the district so that the level of enforcement reflects the size of, and the amount of traffic in, each town or village.

“As the district’s largest town with the most traffic, it’s unsurprising that Exmouth sees more tickets issued.”

He added that ‘raising funds’ was not the motivation for issuing parking tickets: “We issue PCNs to enforce the law, to encourage motorists to park safely and considerately, and to ensure good turnover and availability of spaces.

“We always try to take a fair and balanced approach… putting safety first.

“This helps make sure traffic flows more easily around towns and that there is better availability of both on and off-street parking.”

The Welsh town of Aberystwyth is an example of what would happen if there was no parking enforcement.

For one year the town had no traffic wardens.

A spokesman for Ceredigion County Council said: “Generally it is accepted that it is better to have some parking enforcement than none at all.

“While I wouldn’t say it was parking chaos, drivers did park where they liked and that led to problems in the town centre.”