Parking crimes


              Parliament has woken up to the bad habits of some private sector car parks.  MPs want a limit on fines and clamping when people make mistakes in a private car park, or when they try it on and seek to avoid payment. Let’s hope the new rules work.

                Most of the parking problems I encounter for constituents relate not to private sector car parks on someone else’s land, but to public sector car parks on the public’s land.  Car parking should be a public service. It has been turned into a branch of the criminal law, in order to provide a steady stream of public revenue from fines and charges.

                Of course Councils need to keep the highways free flowing. Providing more off street car parks is a good way to do this. Where on street parking is allowed, it should be organised to avoid blocking the highway. Where people ignore the parking areas and decide selfishly to block a road or a driveway,  I have no problem with enforcement being tough.

                 Increasingly Councils impose more complex rules and higher charges on parking in designated places on and off highway just for the sake of it. There is a current passion in many places to narrow roads, removing parking places at off peak times in the process.  There is a growing love of complexity, so an individual needs to study the rules carefully before being sure that they can park in a designated place at a particular time on a particular day.

                 Sometimes the  rules are unclear about bank holidays, or Sundays. Sometimes there are several different rules applying to on street spaces on the same stretch of street. Often there are no regular and clearly expressed signs to tell you the hours that apply to single yellow line prohibitions on parking.  Any misunderstanding can lead to a large fine and even to clamping or tow away, when the car is parked in what is  a parking place for some of the time, showing it is not any great threat or impediment to the highway.

                Off street car parks can make life difficult for shoppers. Some Council car parks make you predict in advance how long you wish to park for, and to buy that amount of time when you leave the vehicle. This can put you under pressure in the shopping centre, if it turns out to be more time consuming to find what you want to buy, or if there are crowds and queues.  Allowing you to purchase  more time when you return, or requesting payment only on return, would help the shopper, and help promote the shops.

                Having the right change can also be an issue. Now some car parks charge so much for the time you need, you have to carry a pocket full of change. Not all car park pay machines take all coins, making an additional hazard for you.

                Councils usually say they want to promote their local shopping centre. They should start by reviewing their car parks. They should cut the charges, where they are too high. They should make the rules easier. They should allow people to overrun their original time and pay the extra for a reasonable extension. Free parking in Council car parks at off peak times and to encourage use of the local shops could be a welcome shot in the arm for ailing High Streets.

              It is high time Councils remembered that Council car parks, on and off street, should be public services that assist the public. They are on public land, and should be run for us the public. Westminster Council would be wise to think again about its latest plans, which are encountering plenty of opposition.


  1. Martin
    November 17, 2011

    Were I a local councillor I might make the point that HM Treasury isn’t exactly shy of taxing motorists and using the police as a tax enforcement organisation.

    Failure to display a road tax disc – (a receipt after all) and its police action!

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      Or 33 in a thirty mile zone perhaps just to overtake safely and quickly another fine huge or stray a tyre into the nearly always empty of buses lane another £100+!

      1. Disaffected
        November 17, 2011

        The police are contracting out speeding video units. There must be a lot of money in it.

  2. lifelogic
    November 17, 2011

    Indeed mainly run to generate cash and trick people into fines. Tricks like making pay and display times in set units so you have to pay for 2 hours for 61 minutes, so you cannot pay the night before and might forget in the morning. Variable hours, restrictions at peak commuter times which are not very clear and countless other mugging tricks. Also absurd fines of £130 for 1 minute over on a pay and display.

    Still they have all those huge pensions to pay for all the parking administration officers and the like.

    One of the daftest things is resident parking in residential areas – this is nearly always busiest at night when no restrictions are in force and fairly empty during the day when they come to mug you (often while you are just getting the scratch cards off the resident). A huge additional overhead & hassle for small builders, gardeners and odd jobs people with their cars and tools.

    Yet another of those “vital” government “services” the parking mugging service and the let us close down all the small high street shops service provided for your “benefit” from you council taxes.

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      I see Chris Grayling has said “it was ‘unacceptable’ for fast food chains to employ all-foreign staff at a time when British workers are losing their jobs.”

      Well what on earth does he expect employers to do? For £7 per hour you get simply get a better Pole than a UK person. Perhaps he thinks they should discriminate and take the more expensive and less hard working English ones that cannot speak polish (or whatever) to all their work mates and also know all their employment and benefit “rights”?

      The government and EU makes the barmy rules. Anyway if they took on the UK employees, other than on merit, they could be sued under the laws this useless government has in place.

      Get real Grayling. Decide which way you actually want to go- do you want free movement of people in which case UK employee will be undercut in business areas or do you not want this – you make the laws (where the EU lets you occasionally).

      1. Disaffected
        November 17, 2011

        The average wage in eastern Europe is much lower than here. UK unemployed people would not attract higher wages than their welfare cheque. Therefore cut welfare payments, cut tax on low paid jobs and watch unemployment go down. Grayling and Co are clueless. Keep on giving high welfare payments and continue with mass immigration and watch our nation fall. No joined-up thinking between government departments and NO, ABSOLUTELY NO, joined-up thinking between Cameron, Clegg and Osborne’s ears.

        1. Bazman
          November 17, 2011

          Make them as desperate as East Europeans?

        2. alan jutson
          November 17, 2011


      2. uanime5
        November 17, 2011

        So you approve of British workers being unemployed and on the dole if a foreign worker will do the job cheaper. I trust you won’t be complaining about people being on benefits anymore.

        1. lifelogic
          November 17, 2011

          The choice is simple limit immigration and push wages up or cut benefits. We cannot have to have some incentive to work or only a few ever will.

          It is not good Grayling complaining about employers taking the best employees available to them.

      3. sm
        November 17, 2011

        ”you get simply get a better Pole than a UK person” maybe you do/dont. (a UK person could be another Pole these days)

        What i think the employer gets is a low wages – that’s simply put.

        However from a taxpayer perspective the cost side is socialized and paid for via inflation and taxes.What happens when the wage is so low the current workers cant afford to work?

        Immigration is not a benefit to the UK at present levels. It adds to all kinds of social costs to housing pressure, increases external remittances, makes labour a pricetaker and or increase benefit/tax credits.

        1. lifelogic
          November 17, 2011

          I tend to agree immigration for low paid, low wealth, individual is not really a benefit – on average it make everyone poorer in the short term at least. At the other end the highly skilled or wealthy the more the better. Alas we have Cameron’s 50% tax, 30-50K non dom tax and40% IHT so they would have to be a bit daft in head in the main to come.

    2. Iain Gill
      November 17, 2011

      I lived in a block of 6 flats with 6 parking spaces, the council “owned” the parking spaces technically as they were ex council flats now all in priovate hands, one disabled resident all other residents able bodied and all informally agreed which space belonged to which flat. Council unilatrally stuck two “disabled parking only” signs up leaving one flat with no space.

      Turned out the disabled resident had high up connections in the council and had (persuaded? ed) to allow himself and his disabled relative to park there at the same time.

      Thats half the problem (influence -ed) in the system.

      It is also quite common now that parking enforcement on the streets has moved from police controlled traffic wardens to council controlled parking enforcement to find all of the council staff cars parked in the streets around the council buildings are immune from tickets. Again simple favour which shouldnt be allowed.

      1. lifelogic
        November 17, 2011

        Indeed parking for officials rather like the USSR car lanes for Party officials (and Prescot’s M4 bus and PM lane).

    3. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      Parking has been politically driven under providing parking as a “green” policy to force people on to the far less efficient buses which are controlled by the local authorities.

  3. Bernard Otway
    November 17, 2011

    Local councils are filled with wannabe mainstream politicos,lack any kind of CEREBRAL
    processing that is SENSIBLE,and are as much in the THRALL of their officials as are the lot in Westminster.A box tick culture exists and NOBODY wants to rock the boat,which allows all the GAULIETERS [Officials] to get away with blue murder.Any questioning of these officials in particular is greeted with astonishment,and those of us that do are labelled TROUBLEMAKERS,HOWEVER it does not stop my VISCERAL hatred of these officials NOR
    does it stop me giving them a hard time,as a natural part of any contact I have with them,I
    always insist on my rights in a forthright fashion AND I quote their own bye laws back at them,WITH a copy in my posession as proof,and the threat of a VERBATIM letter to the
    local paper. If everyone did this they would get on with doing their duties PROPERLY.

  4. RB
    November 17, 2011

    Parking, as with many other things, has become one of the best local authority revenue generators. Here in my city parking controls began to be introduced in around 2001-2. We were sent a long document introducing the need for a small controlled parking zone in the centre of the city and purely on “safety” grounds.

    Many of us who had lived in that area for years and never really seen any parking problem or safety concern were a bit surprised by this. Of course almost the entire city, including most of the purely residential areas, is now covered in 14 different parking zones where paid yearly permits are required to park and a miniscule number of pay and display parking areas are included. There is nowhere in these zones where it is ever free to park after 8 am and before 9 pm. People now pay over £150 per year for a permit that means you might be able to park within a few streets from your home. If you can’t, tough. Any further afield and you’re in another zone for which your permit is not valid. Go anywhere else in the city and even though you’ve already parted with £150, you pay the outrageous parking charges imposed and enforced by a veritable army of enforcement officers who not only prowl the city centre, but all the residential areas, seeking out these “unsafe” cars. (Parking charges are going up yet again shortly – they are already £1.70 for 30 mins, £3.20 for 1 hour and £6.00 for 2 hours, and slightly less in a limited number other pay and display bays offering up to 11 hours).

    Popping anywhere around this city in a car, not just to the shops or to the bank, is a complete pain. PArking restrictions apply from 8 am to 9 pm on every single day including bank holidays. The council makes an absolute fortune from these charges and penalty charges imposed by its army of collectors.

    We regularly see officers slapping tickets on cars first thing on a Sunday whoch are parked in places where they cause no inconvenience, n0 safety concern, where there are other empty spaces, and where their only offence is to breach ludicrous money making rules imposed by local authority empire builders.

    God forbid if one’s friends or parents want to come to visit. There is no-where for them to park that does not cost a fortune, and if we want them to not have the hassle then we have to inform the council of their visiting times and get a council permit (paid for of course) which will allow them to park in the street without being terrorised or ripped off. Council permission for your parents to travel to see you and actually bring a car with them.

    This level of regulation of parking is the MAJOR thing that has made this city a pain to live in. It is a constant, never ending, irritation and an impact on the simple issue of moving around and owning a vehicle. I am genuinely surprised at how meekly we have taken this massive intrusion and control and I am always surprised how it is that more enforcement officers aren’t assaulted.

    Of course local authotities are increasing these charges and finding ever more ways to charge for “services”. Mr Pickles might note that they are doing this to make up for any small control he wishes to place on their funding, rather than actually cutting anything.

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      Indeed almost everywhere this is the case now and all those pointless road signs to be made and erected, lines, meters to be emptied, fines, bailiffs, ticket machines, letters, legal advice, appeals service, payment web sites, phone lines endless pointless jobs everywhere for parasites and just to cause misery to the populous.

      Can’t do much for Cameron’s absurd Happiness index – yet another cause of pointless jobs for parasites.

      1. lifelogic
        November 17, 2011

        We need an organisation that works towards for the abolition of pointless or worse actually negative jobs. We could then all be about twice as rich – lets start with 75% of the the lawyers – as Shakespeare said –

        “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Henry VI Part 2

        Reply: This site is against killing anyone. We could do with fewer laws and fewer offences.

        1. lifelogic
          November 17, 2011

          So am I just metaphorically kill the pointless jobs.

          1. Bazman
            November 17, 2011

            Your job must be pointless. No doubt counting beans.

          2. lifelogic
            November 18, 2011

            There is much to be said for counting beans well, managing well and investing them wisely – it benefits many – my staff, my customers, taxes, exports and the economy in general.
            No me as I have more than enough for my modest needs anyway.

            Could do far more if Cameron and his bloated state got out of the way.

    2. stred
      November 17, 2011

      I would guess you are writing about Brighton and Hove. Perhaps it could be anywhere. In B and H a survey found they were taking 5 x the fines of anywhere else on the South coast. The, so so called, Consrvatives were just as guilty as the other parties. Now, residents try to organise opposition against a bureaucratic dictatorship, but will be manipulated into paying much more to support the overpaid officers and councillors in the end.

  5. zorro
    November 17, 2011

    Hear hear…..there is often a wide disparity in prices too. They never give change and charge one pound and ten pence for two hours. Why not a pound? Some private firms let you set up accounts or pay by email or text if needs be so you don’t have to scrabble for change and don’t have to return to the car to put money back in the meter. Why not use technology more to assist us?


  6. A.Sedgwick
    November 17, 2011

    Some hotels have joined the high class and technological version of wheel clamping. Various friends have been caught with £60/£90 fines for legitimately parking in a hotel car park without knowing you had to book your car in at the desk and prove you are there for good reason. I used to think that car registration detail was very restricted information but it seems it is very easy to obtain.

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      “I used to think that car registration detail was very restricted information but it seems it is very easy to obtain.”

      Yet another earner for the state selling your private information.

  7. NickW
    November 17, 2011

    Our local Council fines people large sums of money for staying too long at the shops; it is no wonder that High Street retail is struggling.

    What is even more invidious is non linear charging, where there is a huge jump in charges after 2-4 hours, which visitors do not realise.

    Our council charges for a day’s parking in their town centre car parks are £20-£25.00, which is why I use the Internet and not the High Street.

    We have high charges because we have a Lib Dem anti-motorist council, but it makes life impossible for both local residents and local shops.

    If the charges are sky high, popular tourist towns and cities should have a large discount for local residents, and / or sell fixed price season tickets.

  8. Pete the Bike
    November 17, 2011

    This is a microcosm of the public sector as a whole. Increasingly expensive, unresponsive and predatory. People are seen as cash cows to provide funds for unproductive council or government “services” which in reality only provide work for the useless.
    Less government at every level is the only effective answer.

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      Indeed seen to in SORN and car insurance declarations, company house fines, HMRC fines, planning fees for nothing, building control fees for nothing and all over the place in fact.

      Officials out of control just trying to rob people with fees and fines to justify their pointless jobs. All killing real business in the process.

      1. lifelogic
        November 17, 2011

        and the silly energy performance certificates, recycling fines, landfill taxes, waste handing licences …………….. it is just endless.

        I reckon, all in all, only about half the workforce does anything actually worth doing – the rest just inconvenience ,fine or tax them.

  9. Ferdinand
    November 17, 2011

    I always understood council tax to be a contribution from owners of property to the cost of purchasing and running assets owned by councils. Vicarious ownership of those assets should entitle one to use them. Outsiders could be charged but residents should enjoy them free.

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      To the council they are all tools to be bled to generate income for their wages and pensions.

  10. Richard1
    November 17, 2011

    The devil makes work for idle hands. I suspect the problem on this issue, as on many others, is there are just far too many people employed in councils and elsewhere in the public sector. Such employees then have to think up a rationale for existence. So more laws and regulations. Start by reducing numbers, in the interest of value for taxpayers, then rules & regs will of necessity have to be simplified. Then apply the principle throughout the public sector.

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      Just fire one in two at random for a good start – after getting rid of all redundancy and other pay off payments above £1000.

      1. Bazman
        November 17, 2011

        We will start with you.

        1. lifelogic
          November 18, 2011

          I do not work for anyone so cannot be fired – other than perhaps by god and I do not believe in her anyway.

          1. Bazman
            November 20, 2011

            It’s work, but not as we know it.

  11. Richard
    November 17, 2011

    Birmingham is my nearest city and the Council spends loads of money trying to encourage businesses to set up in the city centre and trying to encourage people to come in and work and to spend money, but they have another department which is doing its very best to make this difficult for those who drive and try to park.
    I do use trains and buses when convienient but sometimes for various reasons they are not the answer to my needs.
    Parking on the streets at night and on Sundays where it was free is now chargeable and businesses are suffering reduced trade.
    What once were car parks have been sold for development further reducing spaces.
    Yellow lines have been painted on many deserted side streets, not to improve traffic flows but simply to deliberately reduce available spaces.

    A few things I would like to see made law are :-
    No towing away unless it can be proved that your vehicle is in dangerous position or is actually blocking the road.
    Parking charges should only be allowed on a “pay on return” basis not pre-paid as a fine of £100 for just a few minutes overstay is unjust and unfair.
    Clamping should be made illegal.
    All parking machines should have to give change and accept cards or notes.
    Car park owners should be made responsible for the security of their customers vehicles and be forced to keep security staff on duty.
    Whilst there are some notable exceptions, most car parks I have to use in Birmingham are expensive but deserted, scary, unpleasant places especially at night.

  12. sm
    November 17, 2011

    Parking fines like council tax surcharges and interest all other fines and fees – have the indirect effect of raising MONEY some are of dubious legality.

    Still when you have many a renamed council clerks or CEO’s on more than the PM £150,000 +perks and lets not forget about the ( multi-£m pension pots which council tax payers have to fund) reward. This has to be funded. We cant have hard decisions otherwise some might question are spending.

    We need to remember some council taxpayers are not covered by any pension scheme have limited to zero income and are just running down cash.

    The coalition if its serious about austerity it needs to start removing the very dubious council overheads and putting proper upper wage controls in place and or forcing mergers to take out layers of top management.

    Frontline services cut , whilst many areas for saving remain untouched. Our councils seem to be as badly run as the banks with a legal boot on the throats of low earners. If they have rights of legal taxation their salaries need such control to0.

    Council tax needs to capped at a percentage of your total income, its obscene.

    Squeeze those little pips more, they seem to have dried up. Perhaps if we move them around or perhaps we can find a better crusher. People are being pushed into penury,means tested benefits,council tax, inflation of basic needs to do what precisely – stave off the day the debt is written off or save some of insiders bad loans.

    Meanwhile a new bank funded by QE if absolutely needed might actually expand its balance sheet and lending. The present lot, probably due to past lending and the FRB dynamics cannot. We need drastic action or outright nationalization without the liabilites and onerous contracts from the Sir Fred era.

    Note the job market is dire – just review the number of applications per role as the days progress.

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      I agree fully.

  13. Mike Stallard
    November 17, 2011

    As Siim KALLAS, Vice-President of the Commission, responsible for transport remarked at the Transport 2050 Press conference on the adoption of the White paper on Transport 2050 Brussels, 28 March 2011,
    • No more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres by the middle of the century
    • And a 50% shift in middle distance journeys by both passengers and freight from road to rail and other modes.

    He was immediately rebuked by the British Representative who pointed out that the car parking and other transport arrangements were to be left to the local authorities in Britain. So far, so good.

  14. Iain Gill
    November 17, 2011

    absolutely well said john

    if i was running the country i would have the association of british drivers running the transport ministry, there is much to be said for lifting most of their policies straight into the conservative party manifesto

  15. Adam5x5
    November 17, 2011

    the councils view parking as a revenue source to compensate for the “cuts”.

    the problem is that this if self defeating. as the charges go up, people shop on unded high street less due to prohibitive costs, so the council puts the charges up top compensate for lost revenue, which drives more people away et cetera et cetera.

    thus parking charges are only going to get higher…
    at least until nobody bothers going to the high street as all the shops are closed down. then parking costs will fall. but there still won’t be any stores so no traffic.

    the solution is to stop councils keeping revenue from their fines. and stop target driven enforcement which just encourages animosity between the electorate and the council and their enforcers…

  16. English Pensioner
    November 17, 2011

    Parking charges are causing people to out-of-town shopping centres and the internet, and causing town centres to die.
    Last year, I wanted a small item costing about £5 and I knew there was just one shop likely to have it, the whole transaction would have taken five minutes at the most. But the shop was on the edge of the shopping centre and parking would have cost me £2 for 2 hours, which I didn’t want. Ordered over the internet, it cost a total of £6.50, and of course no fuel costs either. I drove past the shop last week, and it was boarded up, one less shop and a couple less jobs.
    I remember when parking meters were introduced by Earnest Marples, the objective was to free up short term parking and prevent all day parkers from blocking the spaces. The charge was merely supposed to cover the cost of the Traffic Wardens, it was not to make a profit. Can you blame me for not trusting politicians, a good basic idea to help shoppers has been changed into an expensive system to discourage them.

    1. NickW
      November 17, 2011

      For most of my internet shopping, delivery is free, which compares to £2-£4.50 in parking charges, + fuel costs, if I go into town.

      Not surprisingly, prices are much cheaper on the internet too. I recently bought a washing machine online, with free delivery; more delivery options than the local shops, and £130.00 cheaper than Comet. Perfect service, even to taking away the old machine for a small charge.

      (Just Google “Cheap domestic appliances” for a huge choice.

      Finding and buying what you want from Amazon is also far easier than trying to find a specific title in a High Street store.

      If I take my daughter to a dancing class in the centre of town, it is cheaper for me to come back home during the class and drive back into town again to pick her up. Double the pollution, double the cost, double the congestion, of parking in town and spending the time window shopping (and spending money in the shops).

      Lib Dem policy achieving as usual, the exact opposite of its supposed aim.

  17. lojolondon
    November 17, 2011

    Dear John, it actually is far worse than this – as you can see below –
    EVERY borough in London has different rules for parking for motorcycles, and they are NEVER marked. So in Brent you can park in a resident’s bay, but in Bromley you would get a fine. Likewise in pay-and-display or a metered bay. There is never any sign to explain this either.
    I actually believe that this is part of the war on the motorist, where anyone not using a bicycle is thought of as fair game, and fines are there to punish someone for having an easy ride to work.

  18. Mick Anderson
    November 17, 2011

    Motorists are seen as a cash cow by all levels of Government, from the Town Hall up to Brussels.

    The same levels of Government see the raising of money as the object of the exercise, rather than as a means to an end. If they can’t grab money, they don’t have enough funds to splash around on pet projects.

    I didn’t believe Ministers when they claimed that they were going to end the war on motorists. I still don’t believe them.

  19. Andy Hopkins
    November 17, 2011

    Hi John

    With the state of the local high street shops being as bad as it is, the councils duty is to help these shops compete with the the large out of town supermarkets.
    People do not get charged for parking at a supermarket, so the presence of charging in town car parks will result in the loss of our independent shops on the high street.

    The answer is to let people park for free for a limited time – say 1 hour, with charges increasing thereafter.

    If we continue on the path we are on, we will end up with ghost town centres and a loss of the specialist independent shop.

  20. alexmews
    November 17, 2011

    NHS hospitals are another branch of the public service which have privatised parking as a revenue stream in my area. Having correct change was not in the overnight bag when my wife went into labour and frankly was not top of mind at the time!

  21. javelin
    November 17, 2011

    We are seeing a collective “sickness” in the heads of politicians in the UK and EU.

    Like needy children they have to spend and spend on their voters to be liked.

    They also need to keep taxes below reasonable levels to be liked.

    So the “sick” politicans resort to borrowing rather than tell the public.

    This sickness in the public sector is everybit as sick as the private sector was in the 1970s.

    The EU ruled public sector borrowing to be limited to 60% of GDP. The politicans didn’t listen they just kept on troughing. The public need to control the politicians. Politicans and fiscal boundaries need to kept like politicians and judicial boundaries. Politicians, like journalists, have proven they cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

  22. matthu
    November 17, 2011

    The Wokingham Denmark Street carpark is a case in point, where the park is divided between two operators (the council and a private operator) and the private operator charges a huge premium if you buy a ticket from the wrong machine.

    Of course, the signeage is deliberately confusing in order to encourage mistakes. The private operator refuses to divulge information regarding how much they still make from this scam on an annual basis, but I feel sure that the council also benefits in some respect so there seems to be no incentive to clear up the confusion.

    I feel FOI requests may be necessary to elicit information out of the council.

    My wife recently got stung by this. She offered to reimburse the private operator a reasonable amount for lost revenue but they insisted on trying to apply a “penalty charge” we we have chosen to ignore. I am very happy to test this in court.

    I am feel sure that you, John, have got involved in cases like this before? Same car park. And no, the signeage is still not clear and penalty charges are illegal from a private operator. And the council turns a blind eye.

    Reply: I have written frequently to both the Council and the private car park owners to make it easier and clearer for people. Various new signs have resulted but it is sitll not great.

    1. alan jutson
      November 17, 2011

      Agree with you about Rose street, although the Council have now put double yellow lines around the Council element of the car park.

      But if you want some real confusion, then go to Richmond (Surrey) Old Deer Park Car Park, opposite the swimming pool.

      Different charges on different days, for different periods, different charges depending upon the emissions of your vehicle, I wonder how many drivers are familiar with such.

      Different charges for different vehicles, in residents bays.

      The Council say they want to encouarge vehicles with lower emissions, (hence lower charges for such) but when cars are all parked, they all produce exactly the same, Zero emissions.

      You could always park aroud the green, same fee for all vehicles @ £6.00 per hour.

      Who would want to shop in Richmond on a regular basis !

  23. scottspeig
    November 17, 2011

    I always find it horribly amusing that councils moan about the decline of high street shopping, yet keep charging for on street parking – Take Stratford-Upon-Avon, the shops are all moving to a shopping estate on the outskirts as people can park there for free. The car parks in town have got more expensive, and street parking is for very short periods (costing money). This all drives the shoppers to outer shops or further afield.

    Not only that, but they recently doubled a yearly parking permit which meant that the company I work for has refused to buy me a new permit as it went from £250 a year to £500 so now I have to park in the shopping estate and walk into town to work!

    Your suggestion is a good one, and would do well to reinvigorate the shops in the town centre.

  24. frank salmon
    November 17, 2011

    In the socialist republic of the Greenwich we have the ludicrous situation where the O2 tube station is two miles from the population it serves, and parking is ‘discouraged’. There are acres of unused land, but the car park is too small – hence hefty charges if you wish to use it. There isn’t even an official drop-off / pick-up point, so this has to take place in a bus lane on a yellow line. A confusing array of dedicated bus lanes and traffic lights that are engineeered only to create traffic jams makes the place a nightmare. Come to think of it, the North Greenwich tube station is a microcosm of of our general malaise – over regulation, misguided policies, inefficiency, criminalisation, extortion and exploitation…..

  25. Peter T
    November 17, 2011

    There are constant complaints from Councils about out of town developments. The one constant about all these developments is that they come with adequate parking, usually free. Town centre parking is another kettle of fish. It is often sparce and expensive, sometims very expensive. It is as if the city fathers do not understand what a town or city is for. I would argue that it is the city fathers themselves who are responsible for the death of town and city centres. In my own town the Council chose to build its new offices in the centre of the town, not on the outskirts. Of course they needed car parking, right in the centre, and so some public car parks became reserved car parks for council staff. How is that for stupidity. We now have quite a bit of peripheral development.

  26. Acorn
    November 17, 2011

    Yesterday, I was looking for the guy who would be the EU mandated, national unity, technocratic governor for the UK, Greco-Roman style. I think I have found him .

    I think we can be pretty sure now that the coalition hasn’t got a clue, the BoE Governor says he hasn’t got a clue and we are daily being fed b******t by the politico-media elite. But I will look forward to hours of debate in the HoC on car park charges and rejoice that this “Strictly HoC green bench X factor production” will be broadcast to the taxpayers for less than £300,000 per hour. ( HoC only sits for about 1100 hours a year nowadays.)

    1. outsider
      November 18, 2011

      Dear Acorn, I fear you may have missed the point here.
      The first two EU-appointed state Governors were both members of the Rockefeller-inspired Trilateral Commission, Monti being leader of the European leg.
      We can assume that the British Governor would also be drawn from this high level group. The most obvious candidates are Lord Patten of Barnes, former EU Commissioner now overseeing the BBC, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, former FCO head, our top man at the EU for five years and later head of the European Convention – or Lord Mandelson.
      Fortunately, despite the best efforts of these three, we are still not members of the eurozone so we may still be allowed to elect our own state Governor for a while.

  27. Disaffected
    November 17, 2011

    The car park fees levied by councils are acting as a detriment to retailers and the economy. Buying on line is attractive in some ways, but a lot of people still like to socialise, browse, touch and personally handle the goods they buy. It has become ridiculous that it costs more to park than it does to buy a small items such as stationery etc. If the shops close (go out of business) the council will lose money from the business rates it charges. Therefore if councils, or government, wanted to help the economy it would cap car parking fees.

    Vehicle users are being punished every day. £35 billion collected in road fund licence and £13 billion spent on roads. I can see no justification for the government to raise fuel duty. Again, the same logic applies as car parks. It costs more, in vehicle costs, for a tradesman to travel to a house in the country to carry out a small repair than the repair cost. People will resort to paying cash in hand and the Treasury, despite huge increase in tax collectors, will lose out. And the same for taxes being applied to air travel as discussed in the news today.

    There are so many ways the government could stimulate growth by fair taxation. Punitive taxation loses revenue for the Treasury, stifles growth and reduces the economy. This is not hard to understand. Can someone in government wake up the rest before it is too late.

  28. Electro-Kevin
    November 17, 2011

    The joy of driving abroad with free parking (and low petrol costs) How civilised it feels.

    It is truly shocking to see how much the parking receipts have racked up in my door sleeve.

    There is also the deliberate setting of parking prices at odd numbers “80p per hour” meaning that you invariably pay £1 because you never have the right change.

    This enables the councils to state that they’ve kept costs down. They must rake it in with overpayments.

    (The local city – within a predominantly rural area – charges £10 per day for parking. There are certain shopping trips that cannot be done by train. That’s lunch and coffee foregone)

    1. Electro-Kevin
      November 17, 2011

      Further to this it is notable that all of the supermarkets are able to provide their parking for free.

      They know the true value of ‘free’ mobility and how it can invigorate an economy. Clearly they know better how to run supermarkets than councils know how to run councils.

      1. Bazman
        November 19, 2011

        Supermarket car parking is not free by any means. It is included in the price of the item you buy. How can in be any other way. The cheap beer is subsidised by higher prices on other item such as vegetables. Suits me, but is it a good thing for the population and should supermarkets be allowed to manipulate the market in this way? Maybe these supermarkets are run as charitable shops for the benefits of shoppers and shareholders too? It is laughable that you do not see this, but see being ripped off by the state everywhere. Choice? Where else would you get your food? Another supermarket of course with competition lowering your bills? You should be a comedian if you believe this too.

  29. The Realist
    November 17, 2011

    John , this is part of a bigger issue which will fester and become a problem, it has been well articulated by Richard North on his blog from which I copy this exerpt. Following on from Philip Johnston’s effort on parking charges yesterday (15/11/11), Simon Jenkins visits the same territory in The Guardian today (16/11/11).

    It would be interesting to hear views, but having thought Johnston did not do so well, it seems Jenkins has made a better stab at the issue. Not least is the framing expressed in his strap, which declares: “Capped and cut back, local councils can’t raise money by any other means, so it’s no surprise they pick on car drivers”.

    Jenkins asserts that there is coalition government hypocrisy behind the current [local authority] war on motorists. With local taxes held down by government order, the councils are unable to resist increasing parking fees and penalties – what drivers in the capital have come to regard as licensed mugging. What makes it hypocrisy is the attitude of the Treasury, which does nothing to restrict local authorities in turning parking into a cash grab.

    For all that, though, Jenkins is wrong to put so much emphasis on parking. As we keep pointing out, the council fees and charges issue is much bigger than just parking, some £25 billion annually as against £2 billion annually extracted thought parking fees and fines.

    This broader issue really needs the attention. Despite Jenkins having it that local authority revenue is being “capped and cut back”, historically both total income and government grants have never been higher, yet their appetite for additional funds has never been greater.

    The ability of local councils – with the complicity of central government – to by-pass national restrictions on taxation levels by ramping up fees and charges, is now “squaring the circle”, to the extent that it is a major, if poorly-recognised, national scandal.

    Reply: What many of us want the Councils to do is to spend less, not tax more. They have that option.

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      To the reply they have that option of spending less but little incentive to do it in most cases so it will not happen. War on residents and car muggings will continue so they can pay their pensions and wages.

  30. David Cooper
    November 17, 2011

    As any reader of the Telegraph’s Honest John column will know, there is a deeply sinister clause in the Protection of Freedoms Bill that would compound all of the problems described above. The clause aims to give private parking enforcers – the kind of people who purport to send those legally questionable “Penalty Charge Notices” – the right to widen the scope of this pernicious practice via a legal entitlement to demand, on pain of a penalty, that the registered keeper of the vehicle identifies the driver who committed the supposed parking misdemeanour. This is utterly wrong. These people are not equivalent to the police or to properly authorised wardens – in some cases they are scarcely better than pirates and extortionists.

  31. David John Wilson
    November 17, 2011

    This is a problem which you could influence in your own constituency. Firstly by sorting out the stupidity of the split car park in Denmark Street where the car park is run by two different bodies each with their own machines but confusing boundaries between the two areas. Secondly by putting pressure on the police to do something about the parking on cycle tracks (on the Reading Road) and on pavements. The latter is frequently by commercial, paricularly builders, vehicles.

    1. alan jutson
      November 19, 2011


      The official cycle track is on the path for a good distance on the Reading Road on one side, on the other, it has a green surface on the road for some of its length, which is renewed every year (at great expense) as it keeps on lifting.

      If Councils did not extend the footpaths to unreasonable widths, then perhaps cars would not have to park on them.

      Old Wosehill lane had its footpath widened by the council a few years ago, (they took away a grass verge, trees and narrowed the Lane) it is now 15 ft wide for part of its length, double the width of the pavement outside M&S, and is the same width now as the Lane !

      So visitors cars park on it, otherwise the road would be blocked.
      We need more commonsense, not more legislation to back up stupid decisions.

  32. Matt
    November 17, 2011

    Why the public sector provides parking is a mystery to me. If there is a need then the market will provide. It saddens me to see that so many apparent supporters of a market lead economy insist on undermining it.
    Parking fines are like speeding fines – a stupidity tax and I welcome them as I am not stupid enough to be eligible to pay them.

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      Not a stupidity tax if you are a builder or doing deliveries or have a child who needs the loo or the bank takes longer than you thought or the regulations were unclear by design.

    2. Electro-Kevin
      November 17, 2011

      Parking fees are being used as fines, Matt.

      Some set at punitive levels to nudge people into leaving their cars at home.

  33. matthu
    November 17, 2011

    BREAKING NEWS… Don’t miss this debate

    The Climate Change Act Reconsidered 1pm-3pm 30 November 2011
    House of Commons Committee Room 8

    Chairperson: Dr Philip Stott, Emeritus Professor of Biogeography at SOAS the University of London, and was Editor-in Chief of the International Journal of Biogeography.

    Ruth Lea, former Economic Adviser and Director of Arbuthnot Banking Group and Director of Global Vision. She was a Governor of the London School of Economics. Ruth will speak on the impact of the Climate Change Act (including the Renewables Directive) on energy prices, manufacturing and business.

    Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist (winner of the Hayek prize), will speak on the potential for shale gas.

    Prof Ian Plimer is Australia‘s best-known geologist and author of Heaven and Earth, Global warming: the missing science and How to get expelled from School: a guide to climate change for pupils parents and punters.

    Donna Laframboise, journalist and author of The Delinquent Teenager who was mistaken for the world‘s top climate expert – an in depth investigation into the IPCC.

    All welcome and ask your MP to come too

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      Sounds very good Ruth Lea is about the only female who ever says anything sensible on Question time. There are plenty of sensible woman, I know, just very rarely on Question time or in the house of commons it seems.

      Ruth Lea, Matt Ridley Prof Ian Plimer, Dr Philip Stott all very good do not know anything of Donna Laframboise.

      Dr Stott is even allowed on the BBC sometimes I am not sure how he gets through!

    2. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      Ridley’s book The Rational Optimist is very good too and uplifting in these times of depression all round.

  34. Martyn
    November 17, 2011

    We ought to insist that every public servant (ho! ho!) and politician should be given a 6-hour structured course on the law of diminishing retuens, since none seem to have heard of it and it being seemingly quite beyond their abilities to understand..

    1. uanime5
      November 17, 2011

      Why? They understand very well that even with diminishing returns they’re still going to get more money.

  35. niconoclast
    November 17, 2011

    ‘Car parking should be a public service” ? You sound like a Socialist John! Privatise the roads and streets and the owners will decide what rules and regulations to impose.Let a thousand flowers bloom.Why this public good/ private evil nonsense?The British are a nation of law breakers.Tell them to go at 30 mph they will do 50.They disobey the sensible laws and cravenly obey the mad ones ie taxes. I think they should be banned and fined for speeding, not signalling etc and clamped for wrong parking but let all the roads be privately run and any users cognizant of the rules and have to pay the fine if they break them. Ditto with littering the streets.6 months down the line we would be able to eat off the streets they would be so clean.

    1. Bazman
      November 17, 2011

      You are right niconppoop. This would work as well as any shared or communal garden owned by householders does, and we know how well they work! Why not? This was a wonderful idea first thought of by the Soviet Union. Shared private facilities. What we need to do is just tighten everyone up first. Only the other year I asked my neighbour if he would like to go 50/50 on a new fence he technically owned in law, as his dog was getting in my garden. !”$% off is what I would take as a legal ‘no’ I now have the benefit of his old fence protecting my new professionally built one. and ‘Don’t touch my fence’ still being the mainstay of the fence contract. Outfenced. Ram it.

  36. backofanenvelope
    November 17, 2011

    There is an associated problem. In Truro (nearest shopping centre), council employees either park for free or pay greatly reduced parking charges. Personally, I would make the whole lot of them use the park & ride system – and pay the full price. Might concentrate their minds.

  37. Max Dunbar
    November 17, 2011

    The British have always had an obsession with this sort of thing going right back to the 1930s when the first serious traffic restrictions came in. Foreigners noted the profusion of road markings and signs springing up at that time. Things have not changed really. Compare the approach to and transit through a village in, say, Germany to one here in Scotland. In Germany there is one sign at the entrance to the village with the name of the village on it. On leaving there is the same sign with a diagonal through it. Here, one would have a plethora of warning signs for speed reduction well in advance, island “traffic calming” in the middle of the road and restricted “parking” along the road itself. All this is to deter and coerce rather than help people and parking arrangements are, as you say, predominantly for council revenue purposes.

  38. Jonathan
    November 17, 2011

    Wokingham DC is one of the worst for fines unfortunately and as you say John it is “our” land they should be running it for our benefit. Not being able to give car parking tickets to other motorists in a pay and display carpark is just plain wrong and a revenue generator; nothing to help the people using the carpark.
    An £80 fine for failing to display a ticket, not I should say for failing to buy one, just for failing to display it correctly is totally unacceptable. They need to start thinking less of the revenue generated and more about how to reduce costs and make is easy for the true owners of the carparks to use them with a fair payment system.

  39. Neil Craig
    November 17, 2011

    The late Professor John McCarthy pointed out that it would be technically possible to provide unlimited parking underneath our current roads if the costs of doing so were minimised by keeping them down to just the engineering costs of digging rather than paperwork costs, which appear to be many times the engineering costs in most public projects in Britain.

    option #2 here

  40. Rebecca Hanson
    November 17, 2011

    Being a market town with virtually no public transport, our parking is an essential asset for all the businesses and for tourism here.

    Because there has been no investment in parking, as pressure on places has grown our council have been able to raise charges by well above the rate of inflation year after year. Having done this year after year, last year they then more than doubled charges.

    If you come here it’s very obvious to see how the wide variety of businesses and tourism here would thrive if there was sufficient free or low cost parking, as could have easily been achieved had any of the money from charges been reinvested in parking.

  41. Graham Hamblin
    November 17, 2011

    In Swadlincote, South Derbyshire all council off street car parks are free of charge compared with Burton upon Trent where the local council got most of the land for next to nothing from local breweries and charge the Earth.

    Swadlincote prospers whilst Burton town centre declines. My chosen specialist brand of tobacco is stocked by a shop in town but it is cheaper to send to Leeds for it and pay the postage.

  42. Alan Wheatley
    November 17, 2011

    A few years ago I went to Leyburn, in the Yorkshire Dales, on Market Day, and being crowded as usual parking was difficult to find. But I managed to fit my small car on the end of a row where it was not in the way of anybody and paid to park. Upon returning to my car within the time limit I found I had committed a parking offence because my car was not parked in a designated place, and so I was fined.

    I took the hint and never went shopping their again.

  43. uanime5
    November 17, 2011

    Perhaps public car parks should allow shoppers to part for 1 or 2 hours for free to encourage more people to use the local shops.

  44. forthurst
    November 17, 2011

    I had my car removed from a council mandated parking bay and deposited in the pound by Croydon Council; it was subject to a penalty parking charge plus a redemption charge from the pound plus I had to take a taxi home and back because the pound had closed by the time I had established what had happened to my car and where it was. I had only lived about ten miles away at the time but I regard this sort of behaviour by public authorities as both high handed and irresponsible.

    When it comes to the general attitude of local authorities to town centre parking, is not the local collection but central distribution of business rates partly to blame? Where is the incentive for councils to encourage businesses when they have the wear and tear of the roads but no direct income from the use of them apart form parking fees and fines? I know the reason for this approach was the Labour Authorities who thought they could have their cakes and eat them, but that surely is a problem for Community Charge Payers to resolve? This arrangement possibly may suit chain stores but it hardly assists local shops offering a local flavour.

    Reply: Why can’t Councillors want what is best for their local community, which includes shoppers and shops?

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      JR you ask:- “Why can’t Councillors want what is best for their local community, which includes shoppers and shops?”

      Because the local democracy structure, with one vote and very many issues does not, in general, really work. The authorities are out of control almost like a criminal playing games with the public to maximise their personal interests and pay their wages, their pay off’s and their pensions at all costs. They use planning, control of the roads and education, care homes and similar to increase their power and kill competition wherever they can.

  45. BobE
    November 17, 2011

    Restrict all public service pay to not exceed the PMs.
    Cap all public pensions to 80K per annum. Any money in excess of this is taxed at 100%
    Start this next Jan 1st 2012.
    Any that object can move to the private sector.
    John why is this not a good idea?

    Reply: Governments do have to listen to their staff and observe past contractual obligations

    1. lifelogic
      November 17, 2011

      To Reply: “Governments do have to listen to their staff and observe past contractual obligations”.

      Fine respect contractual obligations then tax them at 90% as Brown mugged the private pensions not much respect shown there as I recall. Also change to law so anyone can be fired cheaply – if they are any good they can get another job anyway.

      An 80K index linked pension with spouse residual pension is worth perhaps £2.4M+ is that really what these people deserve – paid for by people often with no pension when they have made such a pigs ear of nearly everything they touch.

    2. stred
      November 17, 2011

      Governments don’t respect past obligations when they change taxes. Re- the sudden change to Capital Gains tax. Why not apply the same to the publicly employed and expenses milkers.

  46. ian wragg
    November 17, 2011

    The entire logic of the public services is crazy from Cameron, Osbborne down. Sales of fuel are 1.5 billion litres down so Clegg says we cannot afford to waive the coming increase. Air passenger duty is the highest in the world and the number flying has dropped so Osborne is about to increase it because its not raising the expected revenue.
    A vicious downward spiral which these people don’t understand.

  47. Bazman
    November 17, 2011

    The answer is to privatise all car parking allowing free market competition to flourish. Those who do not want to pay can ram it. They don’t have cars and the ones that do should be priced off the road to allow more space. They probably dress their children from supermarkets and buy food from the discount ones anyway. The small shop owner would welcome the business from non drivers. What necessities cannot be bought from the local ethnic shop/restaurant? Only last weekend I was forced by absurd drink drive laws to be a none driver and put this theory into practice. Indian meal, more beer from the Chinese shop and a paper from the British newsagent. Job done, with good conversation supporting the pubs on the way there to boot.
    Privatisation would help the motorist to be free to park where he likes, safe and in the centre secure, but at a sensible price. The money generated could then be used to fund more helicopter landing pads on buildings. What the government forgets is that private jet owners still have to travel on roads with the Hoi polloi slowing journey times and preventing inward investment. The helipads that do exist are often on large hotels and inadequate for the massive twin rotor converted ex military type preferred by Russian Oligarchs. Absurd noise laws need to be abolished to allow this. Weight restrictions are also unnecessary as these machines can hover inches. They are in effect weightless.
    The revenue generated by all of this would eventually find its way into the transport system creating a better road/parking infrastructure for all and helping the dwindling town centres to be taken back causing large out of town supermarkets to entirely rethink their game.

  48. Roger Pearse
    November 17, 2011

    Well said, John.

    Yesterday I had to go to Milton Keynes, a town built around the car. I also had to go and look at some Premier Inns. Imagine my shock on discovering in central MK that the Premier Inn there had no parking, and that just stopping in the town would cost me a fortune. It destroys any incentive to visit the shopping centre (and I didn’t). It prevented me going into the Central MK Premier Inn. It’s purely destructive. The local councillors get loads of lolly to spend on their pet projects — but the businesses must hate it, and it renders the whole project pointless.

    Worse was to come at the MK East Premier Inn, where I stopped and went inside to enquire about parking. A couple of minutes conversation and I came out, to find a warden stood over my car! She must have been hiding in the bushes or something. She told me that she didn’t work for the council either — some trust owned that bit of the MK project, and had decided to screw over all the visitors.

    In both cases the hotel had been built without parking, because there was ample free parking. Now they’re stuffed.

    The problem is that local councils are rubbish. They don’t represent the interests of the people, they can’t be got rid of at the ballot box (thanks to the staggered elections of only a third of seats at a time) and (if you believe Private Eye) often seem to be staggeringly corrupt. Often it seems that they are just a means for governments to offload unpopular decisions onto someone else (like New Labour’s decision to force us all to sort litter).

    Possibly this particular problem — councils treating parking as an opportunity for robbery — would be fixed if the business rates actually benefitted the council chieftains. At the moment, I do wonder what incentive the councillors have to provide free and copious parking. None at all, as far as I can tell. Their interest, surely, is to screw those visiting the town until the pips squeak — and they do! Perhaps returning business rates to the towns that raise them would at least reconnect the councils with the local businesses?

  49. David Hope
    November 17, 2011

    In York a few years ago charges were extended well out of town onto many roads within 15 or 20 minutes walk. Further charges were brought in for the evening where there was no congestion problem. Now there is not even a pretence of charges being for congestion in most places.
    Your point about being a service it spot on – for me the big big problem here is councils forgetting this, acting as our rulers not our elected representatives and servants. It is not their place to think up ways to take all our cash, we are supposed to elect them to make our lives better.

  50. John Hill & Co
    November 18, 2011

    I live in a residents’ parking zone and the system works well. Five years ago we paid £25 per year which I thought was reasonable. Then the Council introduced different charges based on engine size or CO2 emissions and I now pay £100 a year (and that’s not the highest rate!). I think it is unfair that I should pay more than my neighbour to occupy a parking space just because my car has a larger engine. It does not occupy any more space than an average car, and the prospect of saving £75 a year is hardly likely to persuade me to change to a smaller car. The higher charge is just a way of penalising owners of more powerful cars. Such discrimination in parking charges should be outlawed!

  51. BobE
    November 18, 2011

    I know this is off topic. But DC has a chance to do something right. If he refuses the Tobin Tax and Europe take it then finacials will flood into Britain.
    Has he got the sense to see this?
    I watch with interest.

    reply: I am assured by Coalition Ministers that they will not impose it unless USA, China and the others do as well, which is most unlikely.

  52. Bazman
    November 19, 2011

    The local railway station car park in my town charges £7 a day or £1100 to park making many commuters to park in the surrounding streets despite many vacant spaces available. Many of the residents would welcome a scheme to fine many of the motorist who park in their streets and anywhere else they can find to avoid the charges at the station like on grass verges. The residents are up in arms, vandalised cars, blocked in cars, sheepish commuters returning to their cars.
    Lower the stations parking fees, fine the commuters or do nothing? A tax administered by a private company for their own gains on London workers. Square that one off fantasists.

  53. Prue Bray
    December 1, 2011

    Interesting post on car parking – which manages not to mention Wokingham once, John, although we have a number of parking issues which as the MP you must be aware of. At least one is mentioned in the comments – Denmark Street.

    As it happens I agree with you particularly on one point, where you say “Councils usually say they want to promote their local shopping centre. They should start by reviewing their car parks. They should cut the charges, where they are too high. They should make the rules easier. They should allow people to overrun their original time and pay the extra for a reasonable extension. Free parking in Council car parks at off peak times and to encourage use of the local shops could be a welcome shot in the arm for ailing High Streets.”
    The Lib Dems on Wokingham Borough Council – and for those of you not from Wokingham, I’m the Leader of the Lib Dems on the Conservative-run Council – have been arguing precisely those points for some time, but they have fallen on deaf Conservative ears locally. Maybe you could join us in asking them to listen to some common sense?

    Reply: I often take up local parking issues with Councillors, who have the power to decide these issues. I have made a general statement about car parks, and have welcomed the Wokingham decision to offer free parking for shoppers in the Council car park on Saturdays. I have written about this recently in the local paper and posted it on this site.

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