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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 January 2008, 13:22 GMT
Parking rules 'could spell chaos'
Wheel clamp
Wheel clamping will be discouraged under new rules
New parking rules coming into force in England on 31 March will cause "some chaos" for drivers and see the number of fines soar, the AA has warned.

Under the new system, there will be different levels of fine depending on the offence and where it is committed.

In some areas, the penalty for the most serious breaches will rise by 20% and the body which adjudicates on fines says it is expecting more appeals.

But the government insists the system will be fairer and "more transparent".

In 2005, the most recent year for which figures are available, eight million parking tickets were issued in England and Wales, costing motorists hundreds of millions of pounds.

Disabled bays

The Traffic Management Act will create five different penalty bands each incorporating a higher and lower level. Each local authority in England will be subject to one of the five bands.

The level of penalty imposed on drivers will depend on the offence in question.

Lesser offences will include overstaying in a pay-and-display bay.

It's a question of whether local authorities are geared up to do this
Paul Watters, The AA

More serious offences will include parking on double yellow lines or in a disabled bay.

The AA estimates that three quarters of all offences will fall into the serious category.

Paul Watters, from the organisation, told BBC Breakfast: "It's a question of whether local authorities are geared up to do this, whether they understand all the implications of the new rules, and whether motorists are going to find that authorities are acting fairly.

"So it is quite a big change from one piece of legislation to the next.

"There is a potential for some chaos, as authorities are going to have to run two systems together."

Outside London there will be two bands. The charges will be:

  • Band A: Higher charge: 70, Lower charge: 50 (previously it was 60 for all contraventions)

  • Band B: Higher charge: 60, Lower charge 40 (previously it was 50 for all contraventions)

London already has three bands:

  • Band A: Higher charge: 120, Lower charge: 80 (previously it was 100)
  • Band B: Higher charge: 100, Lower charge 60 (previously it was 80)
  • Band C: Higher charge: 80, Lower charge 40 (previously it was 60)

For the first time, councils outside London will be able to issue fines by post using CCTV evidence.

NEW PARKING RULES
Local authorities outside London can issue fines by post if there is camera evidence
Adjudicators given more powers to cancel fines in mitigating circumstances
Increased discount period for fines sent by post - 21 days instead of 14
Higher penalties for more serious offences, but smaller fines for less serious ones
Quicker clamping and removal times
Source: Department for Transport

They will also be able to issue a penalty even when a motorist has driven away before a ticket can be physically placed on their car.

Transport Minister Rosie Winterton said this was vital because "some people will drive away very quickly if they see a parking attendant approaching".

"That can be dangerous for other drivers and it can be dangerous for pedestrians," Ms Winterton said.

"So we'll be allowing traffic wardens to issue tickets even if somebody is in the process of driving away and that's a real safety issue."

Right to appeal

Councils will also be able to penalise actions such as parking next to a dropped kerb or parking too far away from the kerb.

Very few motorists appear to realise they can appeal at all
Caroline Sheppard
National Parking Adjudication Service

The Department for Transport says there will be "quicker clamping and removal times for persistent evaders", but "wheel clamping will otherwise be discouraged".

Nevertheless, the National Parking Adjudication Service expects its workload to increase.

Chief adjudicator Caroline Sheppard said: "We're preparing to deal with more appeals, but the current problem with the appeal system is that very few motorists appear to realise they can appeal at all.

"Obviously, we will be embarking on a better public relations exercise in order to inform motorists, with the new measures, that they do have a right to appeal."

Outside London, the toughest fine, currently 60, will rise to 70 for the most serious offences, but will fall to 50 for less serious ones.

In London, the highest level of fine has risen from 100 to 120, with lesser offences dropping to 80.

From 31 March, the time limit for paying tickets by post will increase from 14 days to 21.

Ms Winterton has said the changes will make fines "more transparent and consistent" and help to ensure those issued are "fair and justified".



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The penalty for serious offences will rise



VOTE RESULTS
Will the new parking fines system work?
Yes
 17.14% 
No
 70.33% 
I'm not sure
 12.53% 
10637 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

SEE ALSO
Parking fines 'on the increase'
31 Aug 07 |  London
Pregnant woman told to pay fine
20 May 07 |  North West Wales

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