With the government rapidly loosing the battle over speed cameras, the latest campaign in their war on drivers in taking place on another battlefield — the parking space.
At Birmingham City Council's Transport Summit in October 1998, Lynn Sloman of the anti-car lobby group Transport 2000 which is funded by bus and rail companies, said that the best means of stopping people using cars was to “take away the parking space at the end of the journey”.
Staggeringly, some politicians have actually listened to this inane ranting and are actively doing just this.
“We have a duty as laid down by Central government to discourage
motorists and to encourage the use of public transport.”
Keith Wallace,
Team Manager, Parking Infrastructure, Community Services Department,
London Borough of Croydon
In a letter about parking to our Local Co-ordinator for Croydon, January 2009.
  • Motorists paid over £1.2 billion in parking charges in 2005. (Daily Telegraph)
  • Motorists paid £165M in fines in 2002. (Privilege Insurance)
  • There are only 2 million car park spaces for 32 million drivers. (Privilege Insurance)
  • Government revenue from parking charges is 50% more than when Labour came to power.
  • In 2003 government spent just £29m on parking provision, compared with £48m on helping cyclists and £75m on pedestrians. (RAC Foundation)
  • 1 in 10 drivers has received at least one fine in 2002. (Privilege Insurance)
  • London councils issued 4.9 million tickets in 2002, and a record 5.3 million tickets in 2003, sufficient to raise £193 million in fines.
  • A record seven million parking tickets worth £280 million were issued in the financial year 2002/3.
  • In 2002/3 Birmingham City Council hit motorists with 450 tickets a day, a total of 164000, raising more than £4 million.
  • In 2005, twelve hospital trusts each raised over £1 million from parking charges.

Most local council websites have information about parking in their area — it's essential to cope with all the complaints. See our Local Issues pages for links to council websites.
Decriminalized Parking
This is the 'nice' name the government have given to their latest anti-driver scam. We have re-christended it 'POPE' (Profit Orientated Parking Enforcement).
Under this latest anti-car policy, the enforcement of parking regulations has been taken away from traffic wardens employed by the police, and handed to local authorities. Many local authorities have in turn delegated it to money-grabbing private companies. If you thought the old traffic wardens were bad, wait 'til you fall victim to this lot. The name "decriminalized" is somewhat ironic, as a bigger bunch of crooks you have yet to meet.
In March 2004, roads minister David Jamieson announced that a new statutory code of conduct for traffic enforcers is to be introduced. This is a postive step, but it remains to be seen whether it will have any effect. Of course, if the government hadn't deliberately created the problem in the first place...
In October 2004, it was announced that parking enforcers would no longer be targetted to issue a certain number of tickets. Instead bonuses will relate to reducing the number of penalties that are incorrectly issued. A grace period of 10 minutes will be allowed to get change for ticket machines. The government, clearly worried that the monster it had created was about to turn around and devour millions of votes, has decided to call the monster to heel.
We wait with bated breath to see whether it will obey.
Drivers aren't the only ones with a low opinion of Britain's parking enforcers. In December 2005, Keith Banbury, head of the British Parking Association, said many of them were "poor quality people", and blamed the low starting salary of £14,700. (Metro, Page 8, Wed 14 Dec 2005)
You'd think with the amount of money these companies are extorting from drivers they'd be able to pay a decent salary wouldn't you? But no, that would dent their profit margins too much.
Change Promised
In June 2006, a committe of MPs called for changes to parking policy. Unfortunately they want decriminalised parking rolled out nationwide when it needs scrapping completely. Speaking on Sky News, ABD spokesman Tony Vickers said:
“As long as law enforcement is in the hands of private companies motivated by profit, abuse will continue and the perception of abuse, even if it is not present, will be widespread.”

ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries, speaking on BBC Radio Leeds, blasted Gwyneth Dunwoody for being on the Transport Select Committee when decriminalised parking was conceived so how dare she whinge about it now. Abuse was inevitable when the law was reduced to a money making scam. He said that it was the new laws that were brought in "because they could be" that were the problem and called for "laws about laws" to restrict what councils could bring in.

Obstruction, Waiting, and Parking Offences (England & Wales only)

Source: Home Office — Motoring Offences and Breath Test Statistics (up to 2004)
The 2003 figure was originally given as 8.166M but was revised upward to 8.187M in the 2004 report. No proper explanation is given.
Ministry of Justice (2005 onwards)

The 50cm scam
Do you remember the Not the Nine O'Clock News sketch where Gryff Rhys Jones played the part of a policeman who was warned by a senior officer to stop charging a man for "walking on the cracks in the pavement"?
Well the car-hating Labour government came up with a real law that's just as laughable. You can now be prosecuted for parking more than 50cm from the kerb, irrespective of how wide the road is, or how wide your car is. The issue of whether you are actually causing an obstruction to anyone is no longer important, they've become obsessed with enforcing petty little rules rather than use common sense. This petty law is just another weapon handed to private parking enforcement companies to help them make even more profit from drivers.

PPG13 — Planning Restrictions

PPG13 (Parking Policy Guidance 13) is a nasty government trick to prevent an adequate number of parking spaces being built on all new developments. This forces drivers to park elsewhere, giving parking enforcers a steady flow of victims. Thankfully it was scrapped in 2011, but we are stuck with the effects of this foolish policy for a 100 years or more.
For details see our dedicated page on PPG13 — then return to this page.

Parking Parasites

Parking enforcement under local authority control is now used as a vehicle to generate ever increasing income levels. It has long since ceased to be parking control designed to promote the free flow of traffic, enhance the safety of other road users and pedestrians, and is now an easy way for members in some authorities to increase cash flow.
Paul Sale, Parking Manager,
Barnet London Borough 2003
Handing parking enforcement over to private companies was irresistable to the anti-car Labour government.

They knew full well that these companies would be motivated purely by profit and would throw rules and reason out of the window. Sure enough the new 'industry' has persuaded a number of parasitic companies to crawl out of the woodwork, including some from overseas.
We are aware of a number of large private companies operating parking enforcement in the UK. Three are subsidiaries of huge foreign companies, which means that your parking fines are partly lining the pockets of foreign shareholders. One is well known for operating car parks in the UK. These companies are by their very nature incentivised to throw discretion out of the window, and be as ruthless as possible.
The ABD wants to see all their contracts torn up and enforcement handed back to local authorities whose priority is preventing obstructions rather than making money. At the present time when one of these parasites is sacked for unprofessionalism or incompetence, it is nothing but an utter farce, as the council just hand the contract to another of the same ilk, who often re-employ the same staff.

Some councils are cutting out the middle man and doing the enforcement themselves. Whilst this at least prevents foreign parasites lining their own pockets, don't expect more reasonable treatment. Councils are likely to see decriminalised parking merely as an excuse to effectively target council tax increases only on those who drive cars.
By way of example, take a look at the Scarborough parking fiasco featured on our North Yorkshire page.
Some councils are very cagey about saying who does the enforcement, probably at the behest of parasites who are fed up with the bad press they get. So some councils that appear to do the job themselves may actually be quitely sub-contracting it.
Should by some miracle you find your council is doing the job fairly, do let us know, we'll be delighted to give praise where praise is due.


The Right Stuff
As far as we are aware, there is but one council in the UK that does a decent job — Angus Council provide free parking at all council car parks, and free on-street parking. The council is controlled by the Scottish National Party, who clearly view drivers as citizens and voters going about their business, not cash cows to be milked dry by stormtroopers.
In February 2008, The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead announced plans to remove double yellow lines from many roads in Windsor, creating new parking spaces. Council parking spokesman Tom Bursnall, said:
"It's about time councils woke up and thought about the needs of motorists."


Lining Their Own Pockets
Britain's parking rip-off isn't just being run by councils and their parasitic partners, some other companies couldn't resist the temptation to jump on the bandwagon:
  • Birmingham International Airport — Short term parking is run by NCP. £1.60 for the first 30 minutes, then £3.20 for the next 30, the £5.60 for the next, and then you need to ring your bank for a loan. International passengers can easily take an hour between landing and emerging from Arrivals. As parking is restricted throughout the airport you have no choice but to pay these extortionate fees. Our tip: park up somewhere near the airport and get your passengers to call you when they have picked up their luggage, then drive in and pick them up from outside Arrivals.
  • Hilton Hotels — They have introduced an extortionate fee to park in their car parks, even hotel guests are forced to pay an additional £5 per night for parking. People meeting colleagues at the hotel are also forced to pay a petty parking fee despite the price of a cup of coffee being enough to fund a small third world country. The fee is even charged at hotels outside of city centres.
    The solution to this particular rip-off is obvious — arrange your accommodation, event, or business meeting elsewhere.
  • Marriott Hotel, Cardiff — A staggering £8.50 per day see for yourself! Many other hotels in the chain demand a fee too.
  • National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham — When this opened parking was free. Now you have to pay £8, which is more than you have to pay in most town centres. Of course this rip-off is not mentioned at all, or is carefully hidden away in small print when you buy tickets to events, you only discover when you get there.
If you know of any other companies charging extortionate parking fees, contact the webmaster.


Elsewhere on the ABD website

ABD Press Releases about Parking


External Links


Media Links


The solution to all this?

  • The government and local authorities should implement a massive increase in free short term parking spaces, then drivers wouldn't need to park illegally would they?
  • On road parking should always be allowed except where there are genuine safety reasons for preventing parking. Restrictions must not be used to force drivers into expensive car parks.
  • Free parking should be provided at all railway stations and all 'park and ride' car parks to encourage use of public transport. Means to restrict parking to those actually using the public transport facilities (e.g. by means of some ticket or card) are quite acceptable.
  • Parking at hospitals for staff, patients and visitors should always be free. Extorting money from the sick and injured is obscene.
  • All new developments should include provision for adequate parking.
  • Incentivisation of parking enforcers should be illegal.


The artist Banksy transforms a double yellow line.

We need your help to stop the government and local authorities making it increasingly difficult and expensive to park your car.
Join the ABD!

Did you know?
The double yellow lines on either side of this page are not legal — there is no terminator at both ends (a short line perpendicular to the parallel lines to indicate precisely where the parking restrictions begin and end). If you come across such yellow lines on a road, you can park there because the yellow lines simply don't exist in law — but you should be prepared to go to court to prove it.

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