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Council writes off £415,000 in unpaid parking fines
arking fines worth £400,000 have been written off or cancelled by Bradford Council in the last two years, it has been revealed.
Stolen, foreign or incorrectly registered vehicles account for a chunk of the lost revenue, with written off or cancelled cash amounting to £415,320, based on an average fine of £60 for 6,922 tickets.
The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, come as councillors meet today to discuss the possibility of introducing free on-street parking to bring more shoppers in to Bradford city centre.
However, a Council report says the 20-minute charge-free period, championed by the Chamber of Trade, could cost the authority up to £90,000 a year and mean doubling patrols of wardens.
Members of the Council’s environment and waste scrutiny committee are recommended to abandon the proposals altogether or monitor use of the new pay-and-display areas and review them annually.
The new figures show that the Council issued a total of 34,972 parking charge notices (PCNs) in 2011-12, of which 69 per cent have been collected.
In 2010-11, it issued 45,926 PCNs, of which 72 per cent were collected. Motorists get issued with penalty tickets for a number of reasons including parking contraventions, parking on double yellow lines and overstaying in pay-and-display car parks run by the Council.
The Council revealed that the main reason the fines were written off, including 4,006 in 2010-11 and 2,916 in 2011-12, was due to failure to track down the owner.
That could be because the vehicle is of foreign origin, is not registered with the DVLA, is stolen or the DVLA has the incorrect details on record.
Bradford Council leader, Councillor David Green, said some of the tickets could have been given out in error or to motorists who have since won appeals. He said the Council did not treat the parking enforcement or parking fines as a “cash cow”. “It is not simply there to bring in income,” he said.
“It is there to deter people from parking illegally or anti socially.
“The more important issue is trying to make sure people park responsibly and legally.
“I know there is a problem nationally with people who bring their cars over from abroad which have not been registered in the UK.
“I have not seen any evidence to say there is a particular problem with people switching numberplates in Bradford. I just don’t know the answer to that.”
He said that the cash raised from parking fines went back into the enforcement services, while additional money raised was used for highways.
“But it is not hard-wired into the Council budget because the ideal situation is that we do not hand out any tickets ever because everybody parks legally,” he said.
Paul Ratcliffe, parking services manager at Bradford Council, said that the lost cash was no worse than any other local authority.
Mr Ratcliffe said: “In terms of recovery of outstanding charges we cannot recover every single case we cannot trace.
“There are a number of reasons for that, mainly because we are unable to recover from the lack of details or they could not be registered with the DVLA. It is a national average and not something that is a concern, but obviously we hope to recover all the debts owed but we accept that we cannot recover them all.
“We are not any different to any other local authority and our recovery rate is actually a little bit higher than the national average. Think of the amount of foreign vehicles in Bradford and if they are in a bus lane there is no way of tracing them and they may not be properly registered with the DVLA.”
When the ticket is first issued, it is usually £25 and goes up to £50 or £70 after 14 days.