2/9/2005How UK Parking Tickets are Used for Revenue
Parking tickets are a big business in the UK, with outrage growing over the treatment of motorists.
According to the British Parking Association, 35,000 meter maids administer UK parking laws generating "£3 billion of annual turnover" ($5.6 billion US).
The number of tickets issued continues to soar, reaching 8 million in England and Wales annually.
Guidelines for local governments are meant to prevent city councils from using tickets as a stealth tax. They specify, for instance, that charges shouldn't be so high that use of the spots fall below 85 percent. In response, the Westminster council's cabinet member for transport proposes to eliminate a number of parking spots. Likewise, contracts include quotas -- boot a certain number of cars and receive a bonus.
These tactics have led to the phenomenon of "parking rage" with three London meter maids assaulted daily. The number of appeals to parking citations jumped 88 percent from 2002 to 2003, with the motorist found in the right in two out of every three cases.
Although the net profit from the tickets (now £350 million) was originally meant to improve highways and parking facilities, the money has been diverted to other purposes since the seventies, according to an extensive treatment of the subject in The Guardian, complete with horror stories.
Among the thorniest issues are the bonuses that reward contractors for handing out more tickets. For example, Islington, north London, requires NCP, under the terms of a "performance indicator", to clamp 21,017 vehicles a year and to tow away 9,450.Source: Penalty Claws (The Guardian (UK), 2/9/2005)
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