Tuesday 23 April 2024
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Nottingham City Council: Parking ticket ‘cash cow’ raised £2.6 million this financial year

The number of parking fines issued by Nottingham City Council could soon reach its highest level in at least six years.

The authority is expected to take around £2,600,000 in revenue from tickets this financial year, which ends in April.

A response to a Freedom of Information Act request also shows the council has been handing out increasing numbers of fines every year since 2018.

The council says effective parking enforcement is vital to ensure the city road network remains safe and efficient.

The new information comes after auditors highlighted how staff had told them the council had set targets for enforcement teams, which also cover traffic and bus lanes.

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Staff also previously told auditors they thought enforcement was being treated like a “cash cow” by the authority’s corporate centre.

The new Freedom of Information response shows the number of parking tickets issued has risen every year for each of the last five years.

Parking tickets issued by Nottingham City Council;

2023/24 – To date – 62,842

2022/23 – 67,606

2021/22 – 66,073

2020/21 – 65,812

2019/20 – 65,591

2018/19 – 59,561

Nearly 63,000 had been issued in the first 11 months of the current financial year – around 5,712 per month.

This puts the council on track for around 68,600 over the full 12 months of the year, which would be a record high in the last six years.

Nottingham City Council says figures will naturally fluctuate from year to year, particularly after the pandemic.

Revenue has fluctuated over the last few years with a high of £2,678,000 in 2019/20.

Parking enforcement has generated £2,380,000 so far this financial year – an average of £216,000 per month – putting it on track for around £2.6m by April.

2023/24 – To date – £2,379,975.74

2022/23 – £2,215,523.46

2021/22 – 2,453,290.53

2020/21 – 1,508,028

2019/20 – 2,678,195

2018/19 – 2,036,357

There are a number of reasons parking tickets may not be paid immediately, affecting each year’s revenue.

They can be written off if the owner can’t be tracked down, cancelled on appeal, or sit with an enforcement agency for up to two years to chase the debt.

The council was forced to publish a secret auditors’ report last month,  following another Freedom of Information Act request. It revealed concerns over how parking enforcement was being run.

The independent report looked at council accounts between 2019 and 2022.

“One area – namely Parking, Traffic Regulation and Bus Lane Enforcement – was identified as having a high risk of management override of controls,” the report by auditors Ernst and Young states.

Interviews with council staff revealed concerns that historically the council “has been commercially-driven and set income targets for the enforcement team, contrary to the regulatory guidance”.

It was said the corporate centre has treated this division as a “cash cow”.

The new figures confirm that the number of tickets issued has risen year-upon-year.

The audit report added: “It was commented that commercially driven culture within the council has led strategic finance to consolidate its control over the budget setting process, including the setting of income targets and management of cash inflows.

“The presumed motive for this among interviewees is to meet budget pressures.

“This risks license fees and traffic enforcement becoming divorced from their regulatory purpose, respectively to meet the costs of administering the licensing regime and achieving 100 per cent compliance with traffic rules.”

A Nottingham City Council spokesperson said: “Parking enforcement is a vital service for any council to undertake on behalf of its residents. It ensures we can safely and efficiently manage the highway network across Nottingham for the benefit of everyone that uses it.

“By its nature, this varies from year to year – especially as the way we move around the city has changed substantially since the pandemic.

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