FOI request finds how much North East councils earn from car parking penalties

By Jonathan Mackley, Rachel Cotton & Clarissa Jackson-Murphy

SR News Freedom of Information request has found that North East councils have earned a total of £441,953 by issuing 19,213 car parking penalty charge notices (PCNs) in 2013 and 2014.

As many as 7,264 of these fines were issued in Newcastle, making up 39 per cent of all money made for the North East.

A spokesperson for Newcastle Council, said: “Newcastle is one of the biggest places for shopping in the North East, so it is expected that we would make more from car parking and car parking fines.

“However, we have to make sure we get the strike right, balancing car parking fine charges against attracting people to the city, as it is a great place to do shopping.

“Having car parking fines and charges ensures people can flow in and out of the city with ease. It creates spaces for people to come in and out of, but it also restricts people from parking illegally, which would cause disruptions to the city.

“We have long term plans to be more pedestrian friendly, which will make it easier for people on foot to commute around the city as well as car users.”

The figure of almost half a million pounds generated by PCNs has gone up by 23 per cent from 2012 – in 2012, a total of £360,258 was generated by the same councils, and from limited data already released for 2014/15, the figure seems set to increase further.

Picture : Michaela Skalska.
Picture : Michaela Skalska.

The Government implemented a law in April 2015 that now allows drivers in England a ten-minute grace period before they are fined in council-owned car parks.

Councils also issue penalty charge notices from residential streets and off-street car parking spaces, not just car parks.

Alex Whitehead, 22, an engineering apprentice from Newcastle has received a £70 PCN when parking on a council owned residential street situated in West Jesmond.

He said: “After searching the area for a spot to park, I could not find anywhere that I didn’t need a permit for.

“There were many spaces available, so it isn’t as if I was in someone’s allocated space, I was only there for 10 minutes but this was enough time for me to accrue the fine.

“I’ve paid it back right away to save myself a 50 per cent discount, but this has still angered me.

“When visiting my relatives here, there is nowhere to park without getting a fine, and none of the houses have driveways to park in either.”

More than 50 per cent of people who appealed against their allocated PCNs in 2014 have successfully overturned such fines.

Suitable grounds for appeal against fine, however heavy, is the three-minute rule. This rule provides car park users with the first couple of minutes of an allotted time to get from the machine and back to their car and apply it to use.

Other valid appeal reasons include: poor or unclear signage, and sometimes if the ticket was not visible or had fallen off the dashboard.

James Walker, founder and CEO of online complaint resolution tool resolver, said: “If you have received a parking ticket and there were mitigating circumstances then you can appeal your ticket.

“These include: car being broken down, tending an emergency or clearing debris from the road, dropping off an ill patient in hospital, recent bereavement, attending a funeral, a bay is suspended but your car was already parked there.

“If you were affected by one of the above reasons, you should provide as much evidence as possible to support your argument. Once you have paid a parking fine, you have effectively admitted to the infraction and taken responsibility, and at this point you cannot appeal the ticket.”

“If fines are paid within 14 days, the charge is reduced by 50 per cent, so it’s worth paying the ticket, if you know you are in the wrong.”

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