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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 15:01 GMT
French town bans parking fines
Parked cars
Drivers in Villefranche-sur-Saone can now park without paying
A French town has banned the issuing of parking tickets until after next month's presidential vote in protest at the amnesty on fines traditionally decreed by the winning candidate.


It's an absurd measure, but it is to protest against something that is equally absurd

Jean-Jacques Pignard
Mayor
The mayor of Villefranche-sur-Saone in southeast France said he ordered the measure so that motorists who put money into parking metres did not feel cheated when their disobedient counterparts do not.

"It's an absurd measure, but it is to protest against something that is equally absurd," said Mayor Jean-Jacques Pignard.

"Everyone knows that after the election there will be an amnesty for parking offences. So why should good citizens pay when those who flout the law know they can get away with it."

Road pressure

Millions of fines by motorists are traditionally discarded by the authorities after the president declares an amnesty.

The practice has drawn heavy criticism from safety groups, who charge that it simply encourages motorists to behave recklessly.

As France's poor road safety record shows no sign of improvement, the two presidential candidates, incumbent Jacques Chirac and Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, are under pressure not to grant an amnesty to motoring offences.

Either way, the good and the bad motorists of Villefranche-sur-Saone will not have to pay up to park.

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