UK Councils told to make parking fairer, clearer and more open - from 31 March

Motorists are set to benefit from fairer and more transparent parking system as Transport Minister Rosie Winterton today published a new framework designed to make parking enforcement more motorist friendly.
The new framework - which comes into force at the end of March - makes it clear that councils should not use parking enforcement as a tool for raising revenue, and should not set targets for the number of tickets issued. Councils are also encouraged to allow officers to use more discretion over when a ticket is issued - including using verbal warnings for minor contraventions - and are strongly advised to only use wheel-clamping against those who persistently evade their penalty charges.

From 31 March councils outside London will also be able to issue lower penalties for less serious parking offences and all local authorities will have to include details of procedures for appeals on tickets. Independent parking adjudicators will also get more power, including the right to ask local authorities to reconsider penalty charges where motorists have mitigating circumstances.

Transport Minister Rosie Winterton said:

"The Government has been quite clear that parking enforcement must be fair, clear, consistent and based on robust evidence - we want to increase public confidence in parking.

"Parking rules exist to help beat congestion and improve road safety. With more than 30 million vehicles on Britain's roads, just one vehicle parked in the wrong place can, and frequently does, cause traffic jams. It can also put other road users in danger.

"However, there is a perception that motorists are sometimes unfairly penalised. To overcome this, from 31 March, we are introducing new powers to make parking enforcement fairer and easier to challenge."

The new framework also makes it clear that Local Authorities should:

* Publish and promote their parking enforcement policies, including penalty charge levels, openly and clearly.

* Regularly appraise their parking policies and consult drivers and businesses to ensure the system is working.

* Ensure that parking attendants have clear evidence that vehicle was parked in contravention before issuing a penalty charge notice.

* Make sure parking attendants and back office staff have the proper skills, training and resources to give the public a fair, consistent and professional service.

* Only use CCTV to enforce parking rules - which will be allowed for the first time outside London from 31 March - where it is impractical or dangerous for a parking attendant to operate.

The new framework is set out in statutory guidance published today. This was, first published in draft form in July 2007.

Notes for editors

1. The regulations which take effect from 31 March have been introduced under the Traffic Management Act 2004. The Act requires local authorities, in implementing the new regulations, to have regard to accompanying statutory guidance which is published at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tpm/tmaportal/tmafeatures/tmapart6/betterprkstatutoryguid.pdf

2. Separate non-statutory operational guidance, providing best practice advice to local authorities, has been distributed in draft and will be published in its final form shortly.

3. Since the Road Traffic Act 1991 came into force local authorities have had the ability to opt for Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE). Under DPE parking contraventions may be enforced by parking attendants employed by the relevant local authority rather than traffic wardens employed by police. This reflects the need for police to concentrate on core policing priorities.

4. Under the new system DPE becomes Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE). Parking Attendants become Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs).

5. The regulations and provisional Statutory Guidance were sent to all local authorities in July 2007 to give them time to prepare for the new system.

6. Councils inside London have been using differential penalty charge levels, ie higher charges for more serious offences, lower ones for less serious, since July 2007.

7. Traffic authorities in London have been able to use CCTV for parking enforcement since 2000. Guidance to help local authorities ensure that camera enforcement is done in a way which produces clear and robust evidence has also been published today which and this is available at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tpm/tmaportal/tmafeatures/tmapart6/certapproveddevices.pdf

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk
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