REVEALED: Car park tickets rise as council dishes out more than £600,000 worth of fines in three years
PUBLISHED: 11:54 13 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:16 13 February 2019
A council has dished out more than £600,000 worth of car parking fines in three years.
Between 2016 and 2018 Waveney District Council (WDC) issued 20,625 tickets across its 91 car parks - at a total value of £622,537.
A Freedom of Information request from this newspaper revealed the majority of these came during the 2017- 2018 season, with £290,271, or 46pc, worth of fines coming from this period.
This means the value of fines doubled from two years previous when fines totalling £137,150 were issued.
Unsurprisingly, as the biggest town in the district, Lowestoft is home to the car park where most fines are dished out.
Clapham Road Car Park topped the list in each year between 2016 and 2018 – serving 541, 962 and 895 fines respectively.
However, Halesworth’s Thoroughfare Car Park also features prominently in the list – scoring the second highest total of fines in 2017 and 2018.
One man, who wishes to remain anonymous, received a fine at Clapham Road Car Park after he returned to his vehicle “five minutes after the ticket ran out”.
He said: “To put it bluntly I thought it was a bit of a rip off; they were just waiting for it to run out.
“Parking isn’t too bad in Lowestoft, you can always get a space but I think that is because people are put off.
“They don’t help themselves – they would fill the car parks up if they were a bit more lenient.
“I understand the council have got to make money but give people a bit of leniency.”
It is understood the council does in fact have a ‘period of grace’.
But Marlene Sayer, who also uses the car park, was less sympathetic about those receiving fines.
She said: “I have never had a problem. I think it’s good; if you go over your time, don’t buy a ticket or park in two spaces - you get fined.”
In 2016, 4895 fines were issued, rising to 8,010 the following year and 7,720 in 2018.
The most common reasons for receiving the fines include no valid permit or ticket on display, an expired ticket and not parking fully within a bay.
Where does the money go?
Each year around 80pc of the total fines are paid.
With the remaining tickets either left outstanding, cancelled or put on hold.
And WDC said the money collected from the fines helps pay for essential services across the region.
A spokesman said: “Revenue from parking is a critical income stream for the council and allows us to invest in car park maintenance and improvement while also providing important funding for a range of vital services which are needed by our most vulnerable communities.
“With huge reductions in the amount of money that councils receive from central government, we must seek to be financially self-sufficient and income from a variety of sources is an important part of that process.
“Year-on-year, the number of offences committed has remained relatively constant, however the value of fines has increased primarily because the performance of our enforcement teams has improved.
The spokesman added: “This means that fewer offences are being missed which is only fair on the vast majority of our users who park legally in Waveney.
“The income from fines is used in the same way as standard revenue from parking charges.”