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Dramatic rise in parking fines following law change

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Concerns that changes to the way parking tickets are issued would lead to more spurious tickets being issued appear to be justified.

At the beginning of April the law changed making it easier for officers to issue tickets.

The rules allow CCTV evidence to be used.

In addition, traffic enforcement officers – traffic wardens – no longer have to fix Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) to a windscreen.

Now one fleet manager has complained that within days of the new law coming into force his vehicles operating in London were given an unusually high number of PCNs – none of which should have been issued.

“On just the first week we were issued 13 PCNs that we should not have been,” said Dermot Coughlan, who manages a fleet of 1,200 vehicles for Kelly Communications.

“Of those issued, 12 were for vehicles parked legally, and all clearly displaying a valid pay and display tickets or visitors’ permits.”

The remaining ticket was issued by an officer “who was standing 50 meters away and never approached the vehicle”.

He said one of his drivers also claims he saw an enforcement officer write a PCN while sat in a car over 20 metres away.

“He parked 20-30 meters away from our van, wrote out a ticket and waved it at our driver as he – the officer - drove off. He never even got out of his car.”

Mr Coughlan said, if unchallenged, the additional cost to the company could potentially be £780 a week. “If this trend continues it could cost over £40,000 in a year.”

The company is challenging all of the PCNs.

Since the change in the law, the number of PCN appeals the company makes has increased by 10%, which says Mr Coughlan highlights a significant cost issue for the company.

“We have had over £60,000 in fines issued to the company in the first quarter of 2008 and costs are rising rather than decreasing since the new regulations came into force.”

A spokesman for the body responsible for collating the capital’s parking infringement statistics – London Councils – said no figures will be available until April 2009 to confirm how many more PCNs have been issued since the law changed.

He also said it was impossible to determine how many have been successfully appealed so soon after the law change.

While the problem appears to be centred in London, the change in the law means that over 200 councils in England and Wales now also have the power to remotely issue PCNs.

ACFO’s working group on fines said it has not seen any significant rise in the number of PCNs its members are receiving.

However, Chevin Fleet Solutions said that there is a growing problem and has launched a new service to help fleet managers deal with PCNs.

“A number of our customers who have found that the increasing number of PCNs they are receiving is becoming a major problem,” said David Hart from Chevin. “We have found that London is a particular hotspot.”

He said his company’s new service is designed to help fleet managers “deal with the rising levels of administration from the increased number of PCNs being issued.

“We are currently in discussion with a fleet customer who currently spends £10,000 per month on escalation fees for PCNs alone, administering approximately 500 to 600 fines per month.”

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