Thursday, July 03, 2008

Cars with foreign number plates get away with parking fines

It's not rocket science to work out that if your vehicle is not registered with the DVLA then you cannot be traced for parking and speeding fines. Nor do you have to pay the Congestion Charge.

This is another 'flaw' arising from our 'relationship' with the EU because the free movement of people (and cars) has meant that there are no internal borders within the EU. So, after May 1st 2004 when the EU enlarged over a million people have moved here to live and work, mainly from the new accession eastern European countries. Given that the Government's predictions were 13,500 (out by a factor of 50 in the first 6 months alone) then is it any wonder that the vehicle problem was not addressed?
What also must be borne in mind is that foreign registered vehicles do not have UK MOTs and therefore could be driving on the roads in a less than roadworthy condition.
The scale of the problem is going to be highlighted when checking the number of speeding and parking tickets which have to be written off ... as there is no reciprocal arrangement between members states and even if there was it would be administratively inefficient to pursue registered keepers. And there is another point ... the Registered Keeper is responsible for all decriminalised or civil parking and moving contraventions. It is only speeding where the liability resides with the driver.
Just imagine the case of a Polish father being held responsible for the parking fines of his son who has the family car in the UK ... that would be a case that would most certainly end up in the European Court of Human Rights ... yet we tolerate it here.
Meanwhile, here is the story that will spark lots of similar Freedom of Information requests to councils ...
Foreign drivers avoid £130,000 in Lancashire parking fines
Lancashire Telegraph
2nd July 2008
By Tom Moseley

FOREIGN drivers have escaped without paying £130,000 in parking fines in Lancashire in four years.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show 2,250 tickets have been cancelled since 2004 because they were given to foreign vehicles.

Experts say there is no way of pursuing the fines, which “might as well be thrown in the bin”.
But bosses at Parkwise admit they have no idea how many tickets are still being given out to foreign cars.
Parking campaigner Neil Herron said: “There is no way to trace the vehicle’s owner.
" If you issue a ticket to a foreign-registered vehicle you might as well throw it in the bin, because it will have to be written off.
“They issue the ticket in the remote possibility that it will be paid.
"If it is not paid they need to send a notice to the owner - but that must be the person on the DVLA database.”

The Lancashire Telegraph asked Parkwise how many parking tickets relating to foreign drivers were currently unpaid - but were told this information was not recorded, because wardens could not always tell whether a car is from overseas.

However, the ‘foreign vehicle cancellation report’ showed hundreds of tickets were being written off each year.

Almost 6,000 parking tickets were listed as ‘outstanding’ in a recent audit of Parkwise, which controls parking enforcement throughout Lancashire except for Blackburn with Darwen.
The scheme, a partnership between district councils and County Hall, has been dogged by administration costs and it was recently revealed it cost as much as £60 to issue a ticket in each area.

The project is set to be abandoned in its current form when the current contract expires in September 2009.

Mr Herron added: “If they are inefficient working with the DVLA think how inefficient they will be with foreign authorities.
“It may well be that the best thing for them to do would be to ignore foreign drivers for administrative purposes.”

A Parkwise spokesman said: “Foreign vehicles which are issued with a penalty charge notice are treated in the same way as UK registered vehicles.
“Civil enforcement officers are required to issue a PCN to any vehicle parked in contravention regardless of where they are from.
Parkwise also follow the same statutory process and will enter into correspondence at foreign addresses when required.”

3 comments:

Iain, Newmarket said...

Hi Neil,

The only problem with the media's manufactured outrage over foreigner drivers avoiding fixed penalties is that it plays into the hands of the EU federalists. Our Govt has already enthusiastically supported a plan to allow the registration authorities of EU countries to exchange details in order to follow such cases.

There are 2 big issues here:

1) the potential injustice of persons attempting to defend themselves against an allegation of a motoring offence committed weeks ago under a different justice system. Not only may they lack knowledge of or suitable legal advice on the law in that territory they are also at a disadvantage due to distances involved of seeing all the evidence against them.

2) such a system enshrines in law the principle of a single justiciable area and sets a precedent for further harmonising of EU justice systems. Anyone who values their national independence should surely be worried about this.

We should be wary of what we protest.

Regards

Iain

Neil Herron said...

Iain,

I totally agree and this is what the EU is very good at ... engrenage ... create the problem and then look for the pan European solution.

The solution we must stress is to go past that and look at what we used to have ... Police Officers in patrol cars stopping people for speeding would then have a physical presence to check, to question and to challenge. Unroadworthy or uninsured vehicles would be spotted. Speed cameras don't do this nor do civil enforcement officers.

Parking enforcement powers need to be handed back to the Police ... and there would be the excuse to put more beat Bobbies out there who would have on-street discretion and common sense and be able to 'police' at the same time, looking at tax discs, state of the vehicle and so on. Parking enforcement revenue has created an unaccountable cash-cow with commercial interests and councils filling their boots with what is seen as an easy touch stealth tax.

The argument is not against foreign drivers ... it is against the system that has been created to allow this to happen.

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