Bradford Council told to rebut claims drivers are being persecuted (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford Council told to rebut claims drivers are being persecuted
Council chiefs are ordered today to open up their books to rebut allegations that motorists are being persecuted with sky-high parking fees.
A committee of MPs warns the public increasingly believes that cash-starved city halls are using drivers as a “cash cow”, by hiking charges and fines.
And it says the only solution is for all councils to publish an annual ‘parking report’.
But Bradford Council hit back, insisting it was transparent about money made through parking charges and enforcement, adding that such information could be found in the Council’s budget statements and other reports.
The call for greater transparency, by the Commons transport committee, comes after it was revealed that Bradford Council expects to grab £2.2 million in parking fees this year, after costs.
The Council insisted its original projection – of £5.3m – was wildly out, which meant income would be in line with the £2.1m received last year.
However, Kirklees (up £652,000) and Calderdale (up £489,000) are predicting soaring net income from charges and fines this year, Government figures revealed. The figures are the total income from all parking charges and fines, minus the cost of administering the service and of parking patrols.
In the summer, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, a former Bradford Council leader, tore into local authorities that will enjoy huge “profits” from charges and fines this year.
Now the Labour-led transport committee has backed that stance, arguing it is “illegal” for councils to use parking charges and fines to raise revenue.
Louise Ellman, the committee’s chairman, said: “Annual parking accounts would allow the public to see how much local revenue is derived from the enforcement of fines - and what proportion of this comes from on or off street parking charges.”
Today’s report also calls for: l Parking fines not to “substantially exceed” speeding penalties – which are currently £100 and lower fines for less serious parking violations.
l A ‘grace period’ of five minutes before a penalty charge is imposed for overstaying in a parking space.
l A 25 per cent discount for motorists who pay within seven days of losing any appeal to a parking tribunal.
l A new requirement for councils to refund motorists caught out after tribunal adjudicators have repeatedly identified “poor signage”.
Councillor Andrew Thornton, executive member for the environment at Bradford Council, said local authorities were already transparent about the money made through parking charges and enforcements.
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