Saturday, May 03, 2008

Fine Little Earner

Jean Raine ruthlessly turned over

"A traffic warden issued a £35 ticket to an 82-year-old sufferer of Parkinson's disease, who was asleep in a car, because her disabled parking badge was upside down.

The car was legally parked in a disabled parking bay when Jean Raine felt unwell and took a rest. While she was sleeping a parking warden noticed that her disabled parking disc was the wrong way up but rather than wake her to explain he simply stuck the penalty notice on her windscreen.

A South Lakeland Council spokesman said: "Guidance notes issued with the badge and parking disc clearly state that it should be clearly and correctly displayed at all times."
(Telegraph 3.5.08)

As most of us have learned from bitter personal experience, when it comes to parking, councils will stop at nothing to maximise their income (for more tales of ruthless parking fine extortion see here).

Over the seven years from 1998-99 to 2005-06 (the most recent data available), the annual income of English local councils from parking charges and fines rocketed from £655m to £1,217m, an increase of 86%, or 9% pa (see detailed RO2 tables for relevant years here).

That's an eye-watering increase, and it's come despite constant assurances from vacuities like Transport Minister Rosie Winterton* that councils will not be allowed to use parking fines and clamping as a source of revenue.

The truth is - as we've blogged before - user charges (including fines) are the only area of income where councils are not subject to tight Whitehall control. So they've been racked up without much thought for the ahem "customers".

We reckon someone should help Miss Raine pursue snotty South Lakeland Council and get her money back. Plus a grovelling public apology.

*Yes, Rosie Winterton is the one who's Prezza's special friend.

PS Sadly, Kelvin MacKenzie's Red Mist Party failed to make it onto Elmbridge Council. But he promises to try again.

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