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MPs tackle parking mess

Date: 28 June 2006

MPs have slammed parking chiefs for an "inconsistent, poor and creaking administration, [with a] lack of drive for reform, poor communication, confusion and lack of accountability".

Gwyneth Dunwoody, chairman of the Committee that published the 115-page report, went one step further, "Our present parking system is, frankly, a mess."

Perhaps surprisingly, MPs were not in favour of placing parking control back in the hands of the police. Instead they proposed to further decriminalise parking enforcement since the current system suffered the inconsistency of being dealt by two bodies.

MPs also took the opportunity to label traffic wardens' performance targets as misguided, while suggesting fines based on a sliding scale for seriousness.

The Committee lobbied for a single system of civil enforcement and also pleaded for local authorities to develop parking strategies that focus on congestion, road user safety and accessibility.

Challenging a fine was also thrown under the spotlight, following vast discrepancies within the number of those contesting a fine. In some councils, the figure was only 6%, while in others 56% appealed against their fines.

The committee stressed the importance making the process transparent and user friendly.

The RAC Foundation welcomed the report. Commending MPs for tackling the problem of 'cowboy clampers'. The report urged Government to ensure clampers operating on private grounds abide by the same regulation those operating on public roads.

Traffic wardens themselves didn't escape MPs scathing criticisms either . They were described as suffering from "poor judgement, lack of professionalism and sharp practice". Even the parking infrastructure itself was noted for confusing or "out of sight" parking signs.