Drivers ‘stunned’ as council rakes in £22m from parking fines

This article first appeared in Islington Now, March 12, 2015

A STAGGERING £22m has been raised from parking fines in Islington over the last two years.

The shocking total has been collected despite a decrease in the number of parking enforcement officers employed by the council.

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that from January 2013 to December 2014, 416,608 parking tickets were given out and a total of £21,924,076 was raised for Islington Council.

The council currently employs 123 parking enforcement officers across the borough, a 9 per cent decrease on last year’s figures.

Despite the reduction in officers, £11,641,755 was raised in 2014 compared to £10,282,321 the previous year.

The data includes tickets that were given out using CCTV.

The trend of a year-on-year increase looks set to continue.

January 2015 registered a significant increase from 2014. The amount raised was nearly £1,000 more than last year.

Andy Silvester, campaigns director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s hard to shake the suspicion that hard-pressed motorists are being used as a cash cow. Islington is a busy borough and it’s right that there are some parking restrictions in place, but it’s important that they’re proportionate and that fines are a last resort.

“Motorists will be stunned by this figure and will hope that the money is ploughed back into the road network.”

This was echoed by Andrew Allison, head of campaigns at the Freedom Association, who said: “Islington appears to be determined to raise as much as it can out of motorists for the most minor infringements. Parking fines exist to keep the public highway free from obstructions, and should not be used as an alternative source of income.”

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Too many council CCTV networks have become a means of boosting their revenue.”

A political party was set up 10 years ago to contest the council’s parking policy called Local Freedom. Tim Newark, the founder, said:“Our party won hundreds of votes and the parking regime was modified, but the council is still raking in millions.”

The policy was defended by Martin Klute, Labour councillor for St Peter’s ward: “The fines are needed, and possibly need to be increased to reduce the number of parking offences.”

The enforcement officers do not work on performance-related pay, but the service is outsourced to a private contractor, NSL Services.

Civil enforcement officers have no targets for the number of tickets issued and NSL Services are penalised for wrongly issued tickets.

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