Councils in England need to do more to ensure parking fines are ‘fair to all’, Ombudsman says.
In a new report on parking and traffic penalties, the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) found people are sometimes being treated ‘unfairly’ and may be paying fines ‘unnecessarily’.
Local authorities issue around 10 million parking, bus lane and moving traffic tickets a year – officially known as penalty charge notices (PCNs).
Motorists in England have a statutory right of appeal to an independent parking adjudicator: London Tribunals or The Traffic Penalty Tribunal in the rest of the country.
The LGO’s report – Fairer Fines – revealed a number of common problems with how parking fines are handled.
These included councils not telling people of their appeal rights and not being available to discuss issues people have with the penalty notice.
The Ombudsman also discovered councils do not always properly consider ‘informal challenges’ to parking penalties, where motorists can appeal against a parking ticket left on a vehicle within 28 days.
‘Local authorities need to ensure parking enforcement is fair for all,’ LGO Michael King said.
‘We investigate complaints where people are aggrieved about how they have been treated, and we’ve found the council to be at fault.
'To help build trust between local authorities and motorists, authorities should provide clear and transparent information, follow correct guidance and listen properly to legitimate concerns.
‘If motorists genuinely feel a parking ticket they’ve received is unfair, they should be aware that they have a legal right to appeal to an independent parking tribunal and the council should not reject valid concerns out of hand.’
Responding to the Ombudsman's criticisms, LGA transport spokesman Cllr Martin Tett said: 'The income raised through on-street parking charges and fines is spent on running parking services and any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as tackling the roads repair backlog, which could reach £14bn within two years, and creating new parking spaces.
'Councils, who have experienced substantial reductions to their budgets, are having to deal with the consequences of a huge increase in traffic on our roads and competition for parking places.
'By 2040, councils are expected to deal with increases of up to 55% in traffic and up to 86% in congestion levels.
'In the vast majority of cases, councils have robust procedures in place and deal rigorously and fairly with any issues about parking fines.'