Tougher action to be taken against drivers who persistently avoid paying parking fines

Posted on: 13 June 2018

Devon County Council’s parking enforcement team is to receive additional powers to crack down on drivers who persistently evade parking fines.

As part of a review of highway management, the County Council’s Cabinet has today (Wednesday 13 June) approved proposals to take tougher action against drivers who repeatedly contravene parking restrictions and avoid paying penalty charges.

Since 2014, around £400,000 has been lost in unpaid Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) in Devon from a number of UK and foreign registered vehicles.

For the last financial year alone, foreign registered vehicles have accounted for 768 unpaid fines. The worst offender among foreign registered vehicles has racked up more than 60 unpaid fines.

In the same period, UK vehicles that were not correctly registered with the DVLA accounted for 1,262 unpaid fines – the worst offender having 10 unpaid fines.

The Council agreed that, as a last resort, it will be able to seize and remove vehicles of owners with three or more unpaid penalty charge notices. The proposed option would only be used in extreme cases but would act as a deterrent.

The County Council’s Cabinet also agreed to explore changes to the management of roadworks .

Devon currently uses a noticing system for roadworks, with utility companies and private developers informing the Council of planned works. It receives around 35,000 notices every year for work on the highway.

Councillors supported proposals to consider the introduction of a highway permit scheme. Instead of being notified of work on the highway, the Council would need to issue a “permit to work” – with conditions, such as time of working, being attached to permission.
The Department for Transport estimates that Authorities introducing permit schemes tend to see a reduction in disruption of around 5-10% due to greater control of work.

The system cannot generate profit but would be cost neutral to cover the cost of administering the scheme.

Councillor Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We should always be looking at different opportunities to keep the network safe and moving and parking enforcement is a key tool to support our ability to do that. Significant progress has been made over recent years in making the service more efficient and responsive to local needs. However, there are instances of persistent evasion from paying penalty charge notices and we feel it necessary to be able to, as a last resort, seize and remove vehicles.

“We are all only too well aware that roadworks can cause disruption and delay on the network. Elsewhere in the country, many other highway authorities operate a different approach to us for organisations that want to work on the highway, and it’s argued that this leads to reduced delay and greater control. We need to consult with organisations, such as utility companies, on moving to a permit scheme rather than the current approach.”

Councillors also backed proposals that the county’s speed management policy should be reviewed. With the Department for Transport expected to revise its guidance on 20mph restrictions, the County Council agreed that a review of its own policy should start in the coming months with Scrutiny playing an important role in how it could be updated.

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