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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Foreign motorists 'escape fines'
Parking tickets on windscreen
One in 20 foreign drivers paid penalty charges last year, says ALG
Foreign drivers owe almost 13m in unpaid parking tickets issued in London last year, a study has shown.

Of the 330,000 penalty notices served to owners of foreign-registered vehicles, only 4.5% could be traced.

Worst offenders were drivers registered in France, Germany, Ireland, Poland and Lithuania, the Association of London Government (ALG) survey found.

ALG and Transport for London (TfL) are working with the European Union to create a shared database of vehicles.

The new project called Sparks (Shared Parking and Registered Keeper Information Service) would allow action to be taken against foreign registered vehicles.

Any motorist who receives a fine for illegally parking in London should pay it, regardless of where they are from
Mike Cartwright, of the ALG

Nick Lester, ALG director for transport and environment, said London boroughs had difficulties tracing foreign drivers because they cannot get access to foreign computer databases and there was no process to enforce the penalty.

"From 2007, if any London driver gets a ticket for illegal parking or driving in a bus lane in Spain or Italy, they can be chased up over here."

But for an Italian or Spanish driver in London, this would not be possible, he said, because the UK, unlike other European countries, has decriminalised parking offences.

Mike Cartwright, chair of the ALG's Transport and Environment Committee, said: "Any motorist who receives a fine for illegally parking in London should pay it, regardless of where they are from."

Last year, 5,000,000 penalty notices for illegal parking or driving in bus lanes were issued to motorists in London.

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