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Parking system needs overhaul, say MPs

It's a mess and needs an overhaul, says report

Britain’s parking system is a mess and needs a major overhaul, says a new report by MPs.

The parliamentary Transport Committee says there should be single, national system – rather than the current arrangement in which police enforce parking restrictions in some areas and councils in others.

Since 1991, when parking was ‘decriminalised’, many local councils have taken over enforcement from the police, and get to keep the revenue from tickets. This has led to accusations of over-zealous ticketing.

Drivers confused

The report out today highlighted flaws including unclear lines and signage which cause confusion for many drivers.

This backs Which? research published last November which found that one in four motorists didn’t know where they were allowed to park, while many had no idea about the circumstances in which they could appeal against parking tickets or clamping.

The Transport Committee report said that poor pay and training for parking attendants was not compatible with recruiting and retaining an appropriately professional workforce. The committee was also ‘astounded’ by the number of fines which are issued but later cancelled.

System ‘malfunctioning’

In 2003, 20 per cent of the 7.1 million notices issued were cancelled – this was ‘far too high a proportion and indicates that the system is malfunctioning’.

The committee found huge differences between councils, with some contesting just 6 per cent of fines which go to appeal, and others contesting 56 per cent.

The report said that not enough drivers knew about the National Parking Adjudication Service and the London Parking and Traffic Appeals Service. It called for the system for challenging fines to be made more open.

Committee chair Gwyneth Dunwoody MP said: ‘Our present parking system is…a mess. If a motorist parks illegally on one street they are branded a criminal and will be dealt with by the police and criminal courts. On another street they will have committed a civil infringement and will be processed by the local authority. It is high time to move to a single system of parking enforcement.’

She added: ‘…the Department for Transport must do more to ensure that the standards of enforcement are improved. Unfortunately, we heard that the administration of parking enforcement by councils was too often inconsistent, with poor communication, confusion, and a lack of accountability. This must change.’

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