Postcode lottery over chance of evading parking fines

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THE LIKELIHOOD of getting off a parking fine depends on which area of the country drivers get a ticket, with some councils approving as few as one in 10 challenges while others accept nearly every appeal.

On average just over a third (38 per cent) of initial driver challenges to on-street parking fines made to local authorities in England between January and October 2016 were successful, according to figures obtained by the Press Association through Freedom of Information requests.

Every authority was contacted. Ones who are not listed from our region either did not respond or did not have the sufficient information available.

But there was huge variation between councils, with Runnymede, Surrey, accepting just nine per cent of appeals while Basingstoke and Deane, Hampshire – just 30 miles away – approved 95 per cent.

Guy Anker, managing editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “If the councils accepting the fewest challenges are wrongly rejecting claims it’s an absolute disgrace.”

The figures show that Runnymede, famous for being where King John sealed Magna Carta, received 1,011 challenges to parking fines in the requested period, with only 93 being accepted.

Staffordshire County Council also accepted challenges at a rate of around one in 10 (10.4 per cent).

By contrast, Basingstoke and Deane accepted 540 challenges out of 566 – a rate of more than 95 per cent.

Next highest were Waveney (Suffolk), South Tyneside and Swale (Kent) councils, who all accepted around seven in 10 appeals.

Regional variation was particularly noticeable in Berkshire – drivers in Slough (23 per cent) were nearly three times less likely to get off their ticket than in Bracknell Forest (64 per cent), a mere half an hour’s drive away.

Mr Anker said: “We hear so many stories from motorists who are victims of overzealous parking wardens.

“Often the real problem is really poor, terrible signing. People are often completely bamboozled, can I park here or can I not?”

Mr Anker said that after having a challenge rejected by the council, around 50 per cent of drivers who make a further appeal to the independent Traffic Penalty Tribunal are successful. He said: “I would encourage everyone who feels they are being harshly treated by their council to make an appeal to the independent arbitrator.”

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for infrastructure and transport at Sheffield Council, said: “Parking enforcement is designed to be a fair process and the parking policy reflects this. However, to try and make it clearer about appeal options for ticketed motorists, we are developing a new project that will support motorists on the online appeals page with step-by-step advice on why the ticket had been issued, what evidence would be required to appeal a ticket and the likely outcome of that appeal. This will help inform customers better and reduce unnecessary frustration.”

Scarborough parking campaigner and Ukip candidate for North Yorkshire County Council’s elections next month, Tim Thorne, has had many battles with Scarborough Council over parking fines in residential areas.

He said: “It is always worth people appealing against any parking fine they are given. You do not lose the chance to pay the early payment amount, it just means more work for the council looking into why the ticket was given and if it was done so legally.

“I tell everyone I meet to appeal the fine, sometimes the council will just let you off as a matter of good faith but there is no loss to the motorist for doing so. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

A spokeswoman for Runnymede Council said: “We use our own staff to carry out enforcement, who are experienced and well trained in the role and therefore only issue notices where necessary.”

Basingstoke and Deane councillor Simon Bound said: “We take a pragmatic approach to enforcement which means that we see a very low number of formal appeals and we will consider each case carefully.”

The Press Association contacted all councils in England. Ones which are not listed either did not respond or did not have the sufficient information available.

The list shows the name of the council, the number of initial driver challenges that were accepted and the number of initial driver challenges made, which is then expressed as a percentage.

:: Runnymede Borough Council, 93, 1,011, 9.2%

:: Staffordshire County Council, 478, 4,606, 10.38%

:: Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council, 650, 4,832, 13.45%

:: Peterborough City Council, 410, 2,784, 14.73%

:: Greenwich Council, 1,018, 5,909, 17.23%

:: Redbridge Council, 3,625, 19,839, 18.27%

:: Kettering Borough Council, 31, 169, 18.34%

:: Merton Council, 3,433, 16,990, 20.21%

:: Hounslow Council, 2,596, 12,734, 20.39%

:: Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, 188, 902, 20.84%

:: Hertsmere Borough Council, 164, 771, 21.27%

:: Chelmsford City Council, 145, 680, 21.32%

:: Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council, 363, 1,680, 21.61%

:: Central Bedfordshire Council, 203, 925, 21.95%

:: Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, 311, 1,401, 22.2%

:: Leicester City Council, 1,487, 6,681, 22.26%

:: Havering Council, 3,814, 16,788, 22.72%

:: Harrow Council, 2,199, 9,527, 23.08%

:: Slough Borough Council, 635, 2,722, 23.33%

:: Hackney Council, 2,536, 10,861, 23.35%

:: Liverpool City Council, 2,034, 8,213, 24.77%

:: South Norfolk Council, 29, 116, 25%

:: Swindon Borough Council, 448, 1,769, 25.33%

:: Ipswich Borough Council, 820, 3,197, 25.65%

:: Horsham District Council, 149, 575, 25.91%

:: Worcester City Council, 364, 1,345, 27.06%

:: Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, 610, 2,237, 27.27%

:: Croydon Council, 4,780, 16,979, 28.15%

:: City of London Council 2,614, 9,258, 28.24%

:: Wirral Council, 1,228, 4,302, 28.54%

:: Devon County Council, 4,274, 14,810, 28.86%

:: Bexley Council, 1,688, 5,710, 29.56%

:: Shropshire Council, 545, 1,828, 29.81%

:: Elmbridge Borough Council, 814, 2,726, 29.86%

:: Oxfordshire County Council, 2,018, 6,723, 30.02%

:: Cornwall Council, 925, 3,035, 30.48%

:: Haringey Council, 3,971, 12,736, 31.18%

:: Birmingham City Council, 3,388, 10,766, 31.47%

:: North East Lincolnshire Council, 273, 860, 31.74%

:: Medway Council, 1,397, 4,307, 32.44%

:: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, 278, 844, 32.94%

:: Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, 169, 513, 32.94%

:: Nottinghamshire County Council, 1,990, 5,902, 33.72%

:: Bromley Council, 5,492, 16,206, 33.89%

:: Sheffield City Council, 3,047, 8,981, 33.93%

:: Sutton Council, 2,080, 5,942, 35.01%

:: Shepway District Council, 715, 2,007, 35.63%

:: Test Valley Borough Council, 200, 560, 35.71%

:: Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, 275, 755, 36.42%

:: South Gloucestershire Council, 458, 1,251, 36.61%

:: Kirklees Council, 1,590, 4,304, 36.94%

:: Rushmoor Borough Council, 488, 1,314, 37.14%

:: Lincolnshire County Council, 1,679, 4,518, 37.16%

:: Enfield Council, 7,922, 21,089, 37.56%

:: Calderdale Council, 887, 2,355, 37.66%

:: Nottingham City Council, 2,814, 7,247, 38.83%

:: Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, 989, 2,547, 38.83%

:: Fareham Borough Council, 299, 767, 38.98%

:: Gloucestershire County Council, 2,374, 6,052, 39.23%

:: Lambeth Council, 16,016, 40,603, 39.45%

:: Scarborough Borough Council, 2,137, 5,295, 40.36%

:: Great Yarmouth Borough Council, 413, 1,013, 40.77%

:: West Berkshire Council, 372, 907, 41.01%

:: Cheshire West and Chester Council, 1,168, 2,842, 41.10%

:: Arun District Council, 554, 1,317, 42.07%

:: Somerset County Council, 1,244, 2,957, 42.07%

:: Manchester City Council, 6,231, 14,783, 42.15%

:: East Herts District Council, 797, 1,863, 42.78%

:: Trafford Council, 1,443, 3,294, 43.81%

:: East Hampshire District Council, 255, 561, 45.45%

:: Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, 618, 1,296, 47.69%

:: Mid Sussex District Council, 1,029, 2,154, 47.77%

:: Huntingdonshire District Council, 26, 54, 48.15%

:: Winchester City Council, 585, 1,210, 48.35%

:: New Forest District Council, 246, 500, 49.20%

:: Dover District Council, 794, 1,610, 49.32%

:: Poole Council, 723, 1,460, 49.52%

:: Wigan Council, 1,864, 3,752, 49.68%

:: Fenland District Council, 1, 2, 50.00%

:: Surrey Heath District Council, 468, 930, 50.32%

:: North Hertfordshire District Council, 530, 1,052, 50.38%

:: City of Wolverhampton Council, 1,157, 2,241, 51.63%

:: North Yorkshire County Council, 5,765, 11,058, 52.13%

:: West Oxfordshire District Council, 385, 712, 54.07%

:: Hart District Council, 135, 244, 55.33%

:: Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, 227, 398, 57.04%

:: Thanet District Council, 660, 1,150, 57.39%

:: Durham County Council, 1,975, 3,376, 58.50%

:: Crawley Borough Council, 865, 1,439, 60.11%

:: Herefordshire Council, 1,411, 2,325, 60.69%

:: Hillingdon Council, 7,759, 12,561, 61.77%

:: Bracknell Forest Council, 165, 259, 63.71%

:: Maidstone Borough Council, 2,989, 4,686, 63.79%

:: Mole Valley District Council, 144, 244, 64.29%

:: Swale Borough Council, 3,342, 4,721, 70.79%

:: South Tyneside Council, 1,474, 2,074, 71.07%

:: Waveney District Council, 164, 226, 72.57%

:: Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, 540, 566, 95.41%