Foreign drivers' unpaid parking fines leave councils out of pocket

15 Aug, 2014 7:00am Joe Finnerty

Councils are writing off millions of unpaid parking fines racked up by foreign drivers

Councils in England and Wales are having to write off millions of unpaid parking fines incurred by foreign drivers each year.

A snapshot by the Local Government Association (LGA) of a third of its 370 councils found the total for the past 12 months was £2million, while it previously discovered the unpaid bill for London’s Westminster Council was £3m alone.

Thousands of parking tickets are ripped up if unpaid after 28 days as enforcement teams can’t track non-UK-registered cars. Councils in Oxfordshire, Southampton and Portsmouth collectively wrote off more than 10,000 tickets, worth £500,000, in the past five years. Two per cent of all parking tickets in Brighton are given to non-UK vehicles, totalling around £2,000 a month.

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That’s in stark contrast to other countries where Brits parking illegally can be tracked and chased for payments.

Auto Express previously revealed the Government has no idea of how many foreign drivers are on UK roads. They’re allowed to stay for six months before needing to re-register to UK plates, but there’s no way to track if they do.

Foreign drivers only enter the system if the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is alerted by the police or from tip-offs from the public. This means foreign vehicles are able to disappear. 

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Cllr Peter Box, chairman of the LGA’s economy and transport board, called for a central database for foreign cars to be introduced and said the millions of pounds the UK was missing out on could be ploughed back into road maintenance. He added: “It’s hugely unfair to drivers of British cars who have to pay if they break the law.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Discussions are ongoing across Government to identify ways of improving the flow of information between agencies to tackle this problem.”