UK councils spend millions on foreign drivers

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on December 31, 2010

Foreign drivers are costing UK councils millions of pounds each year as they skip out on parking tickets.

Councils across the country are forced to write off thousands of parking violations over the past two years. The tickets, which amount to millions in traffic fines, are dated from July 2007 and October 2010. The information, obtained under the freedom of information law, uncovered that thousands of tickets go unpaid by foreign registered vehicles.

Westminster Council, between 2007 and 2010, wrote off 45,437 parking citations totaling £3.08m. Additionally, there are still £3.2m tickets that have gone unpaid by foreign visitors.

Likewise, Portsmouth City Council wrote off £110,965, from 2008 to 2010. Newcastle Council had written off similar numbers of parking tickets.

A Portsmouth City Council spokesperson said that the penalty charges come with an expiry date, according to the council’s jurisdiction, if offenders are overseas than the amount is simply written off. Sparks network director Bill Blakemore urged local authorities to do more to track down foreign offenders. He said it was unfair that the burden should fall on UK taxpayers.

Councils have begun to try and work with European governments to catch offenders, even after they have gone back home. However, Westminster City Council cabinet member, Lee Rowley said a more rigorous system is needed to combat the epidemic.

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