London, 18 Jan 2003.
For immediate release.

Contact the ABD

Press Release 390

Stop The Parking Wars!
End "Parking Fine Piecework" say Drivers
As the Government announces that yet more powers are to be given to civilian "paid by results" parking attendants, the ABD highlights the nightmare that "decriminalised parking" has brought to our towns and cities.
In many parts of the UK, residents, shoppers, commuters and businesses are at war with local authorities over parking. Councils are almost invariably looking to the hard pressed motorist to make up their budget deficiencies. All sorts of schemes are being introduced to extort more cash from those going about their daily business - on street meters, more yellow lines, controlled parking zones, unnecessary extensions of residents' zones.
The concept of decriminalised parking is what makes these nightmare schemes possible. This is where parking enforcement is taken away from the police and traditional wardens and contracted out by the local authority, which is then allowed to keep the money from the fines.
"This is an outrageous abuse of the rule of law," says the ABD's Nigel Humphries. "It's a bit like allowing residents to dream up new laws for people walking past their houses - stepping on the grass verge or picking their noses, for example - then issue fines which they can keep themselves. That would be anarchy, and Britain's parking situation isn't far short of this. It's ‘Parking Fine Piecework’ at its worst."
The only way councils can make money out of these schemes is to introduce a raft of unreasonable new restrictions that a democratically accountable police force would not be able to enforce - and that is exactly what is happening. Its government by the back door - a way of bringing in restrictions without having a proper debate in Parliament.
Drivers, who already pay a fortune in fuel taxes and excise duties are being expected to cough up more and more every time they park. The Association of British Drivers calls upon the government to step in stop this war which is destroying town centres and businesses, making life difficult for commuters and is particularly harsh on the less well off who are effectively prevented from using town centres and even from visiting sick relatives in hospital.
The ABD's suggestions for a radical overhaul of parking with a national strategy:
1. A statutory requirement for all local authorities to provide adequate parking at reasonable cost in town centres as part of a balanced integrated transport plan including park and ride, where necessary, and cycle parking provision.
2. A statutory requirement for hospitals to be equipped with adequate free parking for staff, patients and visitors within reasonable distance.
3. A Statutory requirement for rail stations to be equipped with adequate free parking for travellers where possible.
4. National funding should be provided to the responsible authorities for parking provision from the billions already raised from motoring taxes. The UK re-invests a smaller proportion of the total tax take from drivers than any other G7 nation. Of £36 billion raised, £30 billion is siphoned off and only £6 billion goes back into the transport system.
The ABD also calls for
a. Scrapping of any compulsion for car parks to be self financing.
b. Maximum allowable parking charges to be set nationally for rural and urban areas.
c. Price rises to be linked to the RPI.
d. Maximum use to be made of on road parking with restrictions only allowed for genuine road safety/traffic flow reasons, not to force people into overpriced car parks.
e. Reinstating the requirement for adequate parking to be provided for all new development.
f. Residents parking zones to be restricted to the number of spaces actually needed by residents and charges to be capped.
g. Planning system to encourage householders to provide off road parking including subsidised provision of dropped kerbs etc.
h. Restrictions to be placed on private companies, some of which are foreign owned, on the level of profit made from essential parking services.
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory said:
"Many local authorities realise the importance of providing adequate parking at sensible cost to local prosperity and well-being. One example is Angus council who have no charges whatsoever. It is clear, however that there are also many rogue authorities who see drivers as 'cash cows' ripe for milking such as in Horsham where all day parking has risen from 90p to £10 in a few years. Such authorities need to be brought into line."


Notes for Editors