London parking fines: policy failure or successful enforcement?

In recent months, delivery vehicles in London have experienced consistent and sustained levels of parking fines, but whether it’s a sign of policy failure or successful enforcement is open to debate.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is firmly in the corner of policy failure, having approached the House of Commons Transport Select Committee with its misgivings. The Committee was hearing evidence on the impact and costs associated with local parking enforcement and the effect this was having on local businesses.

The FTA’s managing director of policy and communications, James Hookham, believes the Traffic Management Act, which governs local authority parking policy, is in need of a fundamental review. According to Hookham, the main problem is the failure to distinguish between ‘parking and provision’, which is making life difficult for private cars and van drivers delivering to commercial and residential properties.

The FTA argued that the high levels of fines incurred by van operators attempting to make deliveries, particularly in central London, are indicative of a local authority failure to adequately plan and provide for kerbside deliveries.

They stated that although no operator wishes to contravene the regulations and risk receiving a parking ticket, the lack of adequate provision left delivery drivers with little choice other than to stop on restricted routes. This made the vehicles easy pickings for enforcement officers and left delivery drivers clamouring for a clear distinction between parking and delivery activity.

According to data released by the FTA, Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) cost businesses in the area thousands of pounds every year, with a number of FTA members complaining about having to pay more than £1 million a year in fines. This has become such a problem that some larger companies now employ dedicated staff whose job it is to appeal and pay PCNs.

James Hookham closed his argument by stating that: “The issuing of a PCN is a sign of policy failure rather than enforcement success. However, due to the potentially large income local authorities can make from fines, the incentive is not there to reduce the numbers issued. Greater leadership by central government is needed to ensure a consistent and fair application of the parking policy framework which respects the difference between illegal parking and vital business deliveries.”

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