Ealing's 24 Hour Parking Fines - Illegal Harassment?
Claims that councils shouldn't be generating income this way
Ealing's policy of employing traffic wardens through the night may be illegal and could be challenged according to the AA.
The council uses civil enforcement officers – working shifts to clamp down on motorists breaking the law.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph (Nov 7th 2009) this 24-hour practice is particularly prevalent in London, but is spreading across the country.
Barrie Segal who runs the AppealNow website says:
"Tickets are being dished out at 3am. You can get people living in cul-de-sacs who have been parking on the grass verge to keep the road clear, suddenly finding that they have all got parking tickets when they get up in the morning.''
Labour Leader and Greenford Broadway Councillor Julian Bell, says it's harassment:
'' Just this week I have dealt with a constituent who received a PCN at 3:20 am for a petty offence on a housing estate. This is not about dealing with 24 hour safety issues as the Council is trying to make out but a desperate attempt to raise more income from parking fines and is tantamount to harassment of residents even as they sleep."
The AA condemns the practice and points to information issued to Local Authorities under the Traffic Management Act (2004).
According to these statutory guidelines, penalty charges should be used to stop motorists breaking the law - aiming for 100% compliance - and not as a means to generate income.
Paul Watters Head of Roads Policy at the AA told us:
''...an authority would be at risk of a legal challenge (for revenue generation ) if it went out at night without any warning or publicity and started blitzing things that were previously unenforced.
'' Warnings (and information notices ) are often non-existent under the local authority enforced system yet they would probably be very effective at encouraging compliance in places where regulars or past practice means non-deliberate breaking of the parking rules.
''Striking a balance between deterrence, revenue and proportionality is always difficult but local authorities still need to do more to convince the public that parking controls are about safety, traffic flow and seeing fair use of scarce resource parking spaces.''
The Local Government Association and Ealing Council justify the use of the nocturnal squads and say people simply shouldn't be parking illegally - day or night.
A spokeswoman from Ealing said:
"Since the council took over responsibility for parking from the police several years ago it has always carried out overnight enforcement. Double yellow lines are often used to prevent motorists from parking in hazardous locations, such as too close to junctions, and the highway code is clear that motorists should not park there at any time."
November 10, 2009