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Unpaid fines by foreign drivers costing councils millions – LGA

Councils are writing off millions of pounds worth of unpaid parking fines every year because they are unable to trace drivers of foreign vehicles, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

A third of councils, in a new LGA poll, reported that thousands of tickets issued to vehicles registered outside the UK are being ripped up as the driver cannot be traced.

Under current EU rules, European vehicles are permitted to drive on roads in the UK for six months before having to register with the DVLA. However, the LGA claims that the government does not keep a record of the estimated three million cars entering the country each year.

Additionally, the DVLA only records information about non-UK-registered vehicles when they are notified through offence reports provided by the police or from tip-offs from the public. It has been claimed this leaves many local authorities chasing fines, which end up not being paid.

Examples of the cost to councils include:

  • In the past 12 months, Bournemouth Council has been forced to write off £57,000 worth of parking fines to foreign-registered vehicles while Maidstone Council has written off £28,455 worth of tickets.
  • Leicester City Council has written off £20,000 in tickets in the past year. Torbay Council is owed £15,810, Milton Keynes Council £13,365 and Doncaster Council has had to rip up £12,000 worth of tickets.
  • About 2% of all parking tickets issued in Brighton are to non-UK registered vehicles, at a value of around £2,000 a month. Most of these go unpaid.
  • Oxfordshire, Southampton and Portsmouth councils have collectively been forced to rip up more than 10,000 tickets issued in the past five years to foreign-registered vehicles valued at more than £500,000.

Cllr Peter Box, chair of the LGA’s Economy and Transport Board, has called for the government to get tougher on these motorists by logging foreign vehicles more effectively.

He said: “Reckless and inconsiderate parking by non-UK registered vehicles puts other drivers and pedestrians at risk. The millions of pounds worth of fines written off could also be spent filling potholes, providing bus services and tackling the £12bn repair backlog to bring our roads up to scratch.”

Box added that by introducing a central database it would allow the government to get tougher on people failing to register their vehicle.

A Department for Transport spokesman said the department was aware of the issue of foreign vehicles failing to register if they have been in the UK for longer than six months.

“Discussions are currently ongoing across government to identify ways of improving the flow of information between agencies in order to tackle this problem and we hope to announce firm plans shortly,” she said.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Magicbunny   04/08/2014 at 13:41

Presumably traffic wardens can check whether a vehicle is on DVLA records. If it isn't and it is illegally parked - clamp it.

Misterric   04/08/2014 at 15:23

Since it is an international requirement for all vehicles and drivers to be legally registered in their home countries, and for such documents to be carried whenever abroad, why couldn't the immigration authorities at car-ferries and docks require "visitors" to simply complete a basic vehicle visitor form (VVF) that identifies the registered driver and vehicle ID - or even better for the relevant documents to be quickly scanned/copied at the barriers, which could then be filed on a national vehicle visitors database (VVD) - really easy to do - which could then be checked by police or local authorities if there were any accidents, safety incidents or public parking offences to chase. The benefits could be considerable in many other ways. There are various ways in which the costs could be met. For example: as a flat fee (£2 per vehicle at the point of Entry, or £1 on Entry and £1 on Exit, to confirm and record the In and Out status). Authorities/police could also pay a flat fee per enquiry. All govt authorities already have databases and easy access to virtually everything about us, and this VVD would just be another database with simple record and search functions. Unlike many other govt IT systems, this need only be a basic database application - the required details being:- the registered drivers name and home address and DoB; plus their driving licence ID to confirm their identity; the vehicles and make/model; accompanied by a legal car insurance document with the policyholders name and address; plus of course the insurance companies ID; then adding the ENTRY port location, date and time, with a similar space for EXIT port location, date and time. The functions on this database application should include:- "Adding a vehicle entry record to the VVD"; "Deleting a VVD record"; "Searching for a VVD record based on drivers ID or dates, or vehicle ID" or Insurance policy ID"; "Adding a vehicle EXIT record to the VVD"; and possibly "Searching and Linking repeat VVD entry/exit records by that person or vehicle". Other security functions could be added if required. Thats it!

Misterric   06/08/2014 at 12:52

Just thought I'd add a few more comments to my initial remarks of 2 days ago, before the "doubters" get in. As a former technical consultant, with much practical IT experience, I know what a database application is, and what is involved in its development, and the types of software development tools that are available. So, the tools are very powerful and enable quick development. Data storage is now very cheap in comparison to earlier, and the means of sharing and distributing data is very flexible - especially in the wide ranging govt networks. Existing staff should be more than capablew of doing this task. The only reasons for non-implementation of this very useful application is where the civil servants give 'cautious advice', or the human rights and personal security/privacy groups get involved. They can cloud the issues for so long as to make it almost impossible to achieve the desired results without enormous waste of time and expense in arguing the case, and where it is often "kicked into the long grass" and forgotten. We should not let that happen. Lets get on with it and start achieving the results/benefits.

Edsworld   20/08/2014 at 00:20

The problem is the behaviour of councils using parking as a significant part of their income stream both with pay & display and penalties. We need to reverse the trend and go back to tickets only being issued if a vehicle is impeding traffic or causing congestion. The land belongs to the UK public and Councils are there to serve the public by managing the public land and assets in the interest of the public. This seems to have been lost with the public/motorist being fleeced at every opportunity. This is also killing our town centres. Now the LGA proposal is to try and get all the money from visitors to our country who most likely are here to either spend money in our communities or contribute with their skills to our economy. So lets make the overriding memory of coming to our country is being prosecuted for a parking offence... Great business sense....NOT. Lets get rid of all the parking restrictions and parking contractors getting rich off the community. We can make it that everyone wants to drive to our towns and spend in their community through choice rather than through indirect taxes and unfair parking warden behaviours. With regards to overstaying overseas vehicles, perhaps we could learn a few things from elsewhere in Europe. Every foreign vehicle should be required to purchase a low cost vignette to display in their windscreen showing the date they entered the country and valid for a maximum of six months. A vehicle without one would be subject to an on the spot fine or immediate purchase of a vignette. Renewal would require registration with DVLA and might provide an opportunity to use all that equipment that makes current RFL discs before throwing it away.

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