Ealing's 24 Hour Parking Fines - Illegal Harassment?

Claims that councils shouldn't be generating income this way

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Ealing Council's policy of employing traffic wardens through the night may be illegal and could be challenged according to the AA.

The council uses civil enforcement officers working shifts to clamp down on motorists breaking the law. According to a report in the Daily Telegraph (November 2009) this 24-hour practice is particularly prevalent in London, but is spreading across the country.

AppealNow founder Barrie Segal said, "Tickets are being dished out at 3am. You can get people living in cul-de-sacs who have been parking on the grass verge to keep the road clear, suddenly finding that they have all got parking tickets when they get up in the morning.''

His comments were reinforced by a resident of Whellock Road, Chiswick who said, “I was issued a ticket at 03.17. Admittedly my back wheels were just over the white lines of the parking bay so I felt I couldn’t appeal but did ask the council why their wardens were patrolling quiet residential streets in the middle of the night.

“I was informed that it was council policy to ensure that my road was kept clear of ‘pub and club’ traffic. I found the response more preposterous than the ticket; I live no where near a pub or a club!”

The AA condemns the practice and points to information issued to Local Authorities under the Traffic Management Act (2004).

According to these statutory guidelines, penalty charges should be used to stop motorists breaking the law - aiming for 100% compliance - and not as a means to generate income.
Paul Watters Head of Roads Policy at the AA told us, ''...an authority would be at risk of a legal challenge (for revenue generation ) if it went out at night without any warning or publicity and started blitzing things that were previously unenforced.

"Warnings (and information notices ) are often non-existent under the local authority enforced system yet they would probably be very effective at encouraging compliance in places where regulars or past practice means non-deliberate breaking of the parking rules.

''Striking a balance between deterrence, revenue and proportionality is always difficult but local authorities still need to do more to convince the public that parking controls are about safety, traffic flow and seeing fair use of scarce resource parking spaces.''

The Local Government Association and Ealing Council justify the use of the nocturnal squads and say people simply shouldn't be parking illegally - day or night.

A spokeswoman from Ealing said, "Since the council took over responsibility for parking from the police several years ago it has always carried out overnight enforcement. Double yellow lines are often used to prevent motorists from parking in hazardous locations, such as too close to junctions, and the Highway Code is clear that motorists should not park there at any time."

December 3, 2009