Two-thirds of parking tickets 'issued illegally'
Motorists could be paying more than £500million a year for parking fines that should never have been issued, research shows.
Traffic wardens dish out up to ten million tickets each year in England and Wales.
And drivers pay an estimated £781million in fines and fixed penalties for allegedly parking in the wrong place.
Fighting back: lawyer Safiya Hussain has set up a company to help people fight parking fines
But less than one per cent of drivers appeal – even though figures show a significant proportion of those who do are successful.
Campaigners say the statistics suggest local authorities are amassing a fortune in fines because more than two thirds of parking tickets should never have been given out. The penalties are another stealth tax on the motorist, they claim.
In London last year 68 per cent of drivers who took their case to the independent adjudicator won their appeal. Figures for 2009/10 reveal that 50,185 drivers lodged appeals – with 34,072 successful.
Outside London, Traffic Penalty Tribunal figures for 2008/09 show that, in England, of 12,423 appeals, 62 per cent were allowed. In Wales, of 145 appeals, the adjudicator allowed 86 (59 per cent).
Lawyer Safiya Hussain has launched a company – NoParkingFine – to prepare appeals for drivers. She said: ‘There are hundreds of complex laws which the authorities must abide by before issuing parking fines.
‘The authorities breach these laws most of the time, yet parking wardens still issue invalid parking fines. And what do we do? We sigh and we pay.
‘People are generally reluctant to dispute parking fines because they do not know what to look for. The research proves that mistakes occur frequently so it is vital for people to dispute the fine.’
Her company examines cases for free but if there are grounds for appeal the motorist is charged half the minimum fine.
Parking fines vary across the country but in London can be up to £120, reduced by 50 per cent if paid within 14 days.
Appeals have three stages – an informal approach to the council, a formal appeal to the council and then to an independent adjudicator.
University of Central Lancashire graduate Miss Hussain, who runs her firm from the university’s business ‘incubator’ unit, finds ways in which a fine can be challenged, including inaccurate road markings and signage.
She said: ‘When a member of the public goes over his time limit by half a minute or parks in a space where the signs are unclear but still receives a penalty notice from over-zealous parking wardens then surely we must stand up for our rights?
‘It has become an increasing stealth tax. If we are going to be taxed in such a way, then we have the right to ensure that the authorities are within the law to do this.’
But Peter Box, of the Local Government Association, said: ‘In more than 99 per cent of cases there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that parking fines have been issued incorrectly.
‘Councils are not allowed to use parking charges as a way to make profit and money raised from charges and fines is reinvested to benefit all motorists.’
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