Transport Committee


Finding a Space for Parking Policy

[Revised 8 November 2005

The press notice below was amended on Tuesday 8 November 2005. The original version included the phrase "parking fines raised nearly £1 billion in 2004".  This was in fact the total income from all parking activities: which includes income from on and off street parking, charges and residents parking permits.  The press notice was amended accordingly to clarify that the amount quoted referred to the surplus income from parking charges and penalty charges.]

The Government's transport strategy gives little priority to parking policy, yet most drivers have experienced difficulties finding a place to park at some point, and increasing numbers of local authorities have applied to the Secretary of State for powers to take over aspects of parking enforcement from the police.

About a third of local authorities in the UK have adopted decriminalized parking enforcement since the mid-1990s, and parking charges raised nearly £1 billion in 2004. Surpluses generated by parking charges can be kept by the local authority for transport related spending. More flexibility on how the surplus could be spent was introduced with the Transport Management Act 2004. Concerns have been raised over the standard of enforcement activity undertaken by some councils and contractors, in particular there have been suggestions that wheel clamping has been used inappropriately, and that the surpluses that can be raised through parking enforcement have become the main motivation for local authority parking control.

The former Transport Committee in its report on Traffic Law and Enforcement  recommended that the Government issue guidance to local authorities about the civil enforcement of traffic contraventions.  It advised that this guidance should ensure proportionality in enforcement and proper discretion in applying measures. As more local authorities adopt decriminalized parking enforcement there is a risk that public perception of parking may deteriorate if action is not taken to promote the legitimacy of parking control and transparency in the way orders are enforced.

I n light of these developments, the Transport Committee has decided to inquire into the current effectiveness of parking provision and enforcement policy. In particular, the Committee wishes to examine:

• Are local authorities carrying out parking control reasonably, fairly and accountably? How is performance evaluated?

• What action would raise the standard of parking enforcement activity?  Is Statutory Guidance needed to promote consistency?

• Is the appeals process fair and effective? How could it be improved?

• Is it appropriate that local authorities should keep the revenue generated from parking charges? Is there any evidence that the opportunity to raise revenue through decriminalized parking enforcement has inappropriately influenced authorities' parking policy and enforcement activity?

• What criteria should be used to determine the level of parking provision that should be provided?

• What are the wider impacts of current parking policy and illegally parked vehicles?

• What role should parking policy play in traffic management and demand management?

• How can public understanding and acceptance of the need for parking policy be achieved?

Interested parties are invited to submit written memoranda to the Committee before Monday 3 October 2005.

 Memoranda should be a maximum of 6 A4 pages in length.

Please submit a single hard copy of your memorandum by post to the above address, and an electronic version preferably by e-mail to or alternatively on a disk with the hard copy.  If you are unable to submit an electronic version of your memorandum, please take particular care to ensure that your submission is legible. All submissions should be final and complete; the Committee does not accept draft memoranda or subsequent amendments. Memoranda submitted to the Committee should be kept confidential until published by the Committee .

Press Notice  04/2005-06   9 August 2005

Dr John Patterson, Clerk of the Committee