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Greater Manchester's Parking Jackpot

EXCLUSIVE: £6m to seven councils as they hand out more than 250,000 tickets

Written by . Published on June 20th 2011.


Greater Manchester's Parking Jackpot

INFORMATION collected by Confidential shows seven of Greater Manchester’s boroughs collected a whopping £6m from parking ticket fines between them in the last year.

"With the average ticket charge coming in at £51, the region is still owed at least £2.5m through unpaid fines."

We asked each borough how many parking enforcement notices (PNC) they’d dished out between June 2010 and May 2011, and how much money had been raised from them.

Between them, the seven local authorities had handed out around 255,000 PCNs, for a range of offences.

However, there are also millions of pounds outstanding through tens of thousands of unpaid fines, as motorists challenge the tickets.

Parking enforcement officers working in Manchester handed out 100,412 tickets in total, earning just short of £2.4m. Around 25,000 of those tickets are yet to be paid, however. The most ticketed spot was Bridge Street in the city centre.

In Salford, 35,486 tickets were handed out and more than a third – 12,769 – have yet to be paid. The council has banked £967,418 from notices that have been settled, however.

Officers in Rochdale wrote up 16,196 tickets and although the council could not tell us how many remain unpaid, 612 were written off, 1,907 were cancelled as a result of appeals and 1,626 were in the process of being challenged. The local council made £496,537 through PCNs.

In Wigan, 20,140 tickets were given out, which amounted to £493,765 in revenues for the council. No information was available for how many of those are as yet unpaid.

Oldham Council made £589,140 from 43,466 parking fines, with around 4,300 unpaid so far.

In Trafford, drivers were issued with 26,305 penalty charge notices - 19,439 of these have been paid, with the remaining 6,866 currently at various stages of the payment process. The council made £689,474 from the tickets, which it said was being invested back into the highways budget.

In Stockport, the council raised £387,010 through the 15,059 notices it issued, of which 4,862 tickets have not been paid. The council said it was using the cash to ‘support maintenance of the council’s car parks, reducing the burden on Council Tax.’

With the average ticket charge coming in at £51, however, the region is still owed at least £2.5m through 57,000 unpaid fines, although many of those could also be cancelled.

Councils in Bolton and Tameside requested that Confidential submit a Freedom of Information request to obtain the information and Bury failed to respond to the request. Bless them.

Manchester City Council recently revealed plans to abolish free Sunday parking for the 2,500 spaces in the city centre - although these proposals have to be finalised. We'll be giving these close examination when they are published.

The city council is also extending the charging hours on weekdays and Saturdays in order to raise more cash to offset recent government spending cuts.

Additional reporting by Katie Slade and Katie Franklin.

Follow Simon Binns on Twitter: @simonbinns

NB: The image used with this story is a real life parking fine given to our news editor Simon Binns last week. While he was writing a story about parking fines. He’d left his car on the meter too long, so it’s a fair cop. Oh, the irony…

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39 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Ernest MarplesJune 20th 2011.

Cue a stream of 'hard pressed motorists' using phrases such as 'little hitlers' and 'stealth tax' and other such nonsense all with anecdotes about the time they illegally parked and got a ticket but how unfair it all is.

SmittyJune 20th 2011.

Follow the rules, you don't get a ticket... From someone who, like Binns, got a ticket the other week. I felt it was a little unjust as I thought that you could park on a single yellow in Salford on a bank holiday, but no. Sticks in my throat paying it (and does mean I'll be sticking to Manchester in future), but there you have it.

Simon BinnsJune 20th 2011.

I also got one the week before, Smitty, because the ticket had partially turned over on the dashboard despite there being an hour left. They're quick off the mark in and around Spinningfields.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
SmittyJune 20th 2011.

And if you tell them that they'll cancel it, I would guess. Actually I wouldn't guess as the same thing happened to me and they did. doesn't happen in Belfast where you stick pay and display tickets on the window...

Simon BinnsJune 20th 2011.

Yes, I did challenge it...waiting to hear back.

born n bred in McrJune 20th 2011.

I have challenged on more than one occasions and each time won. Persistance and reasonability.

Mario Balo's tellyJune 20th 2011.

Manchester City should just send in £500 000 in a brown envelope to cover their teams city centre parking needs throughout the year.

Weby72June 20th 2011.

I've challenged every single ticket I've every got - even if I knew I had no chance. If it takes someone 10 mins to print a letter and send it out (plus postage) then I feel they've not had the full £25 off me. Small victories...

I've never won, mind. Even the time my ticket had blown over on the dash. They refused my explanation point-blank.

Simon SmithJune 20th 2011.

I've had one parking ticket in my life.

I appealed because I knew I hadn't parked illegally.

My appeal was rejected by a Trafford council manager and I was told in his letter not to be 'vexatious' in any further discussion of the dispute as this could increase my fine to £5000.

Enclosed with the letter were two photos of my car, taken by the warden, showing beyond any doubt whatsoever that my car was legally parked.

The case was dropped after I rang the council and advised them to look at the photos before carrying out their threat to take me to court. I had to threaten them with contacting my councillor and MP before they agreed to write to me apologising and confirming the matter was closed. The person who agreed to send me the letter spoke in a manner which suggested she thought she was doing me a favour.

SoozJune 20th 2011.

I got 3 tickets in 2 weeks but because I knew I couldn't trust the council to do their jobs properly I took photos of my car every time i parked and move to a different location. It took 9 months of stress and letters but eventually they 'let me off' even though I had not broken any laws!! my wheels had just rolled into the same position on each occasion!! something they say is almost impossible to happen - 3 times in 2 weeks tells another story! my digital camera comes with me every time and i advice everyone to do the same..this must happen a lot and it's not fair, taking a digital photo which shows the time and date takes a few seconds!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 20th 2011.

oh sooz you mean you don't know how to change the date you camera shows....

James SpencerJune 20th 2011.

Simon you are entitled to make political points about raising cash but you are supposed to be a reporter in this instance. The Council's reason for extending charges is given the their consultative document.. normally you would say what is their reason and have a quote for those who think it nonsense and it is just money raising.

Gordo always says what he likes whatever the facts.. that just Gordo

Simon BinnsJune 20th 2011.

Sorry James, I don't really get your point. I don't see where I'm making a 'political point' to be honest. Especially given the different political control of Manchester to, say, Trafford councils. So I'm a bit lost on that one.

I've also outlined the council's reasons for extending the charging - to offset the spending cuts. And we've not said that we agree or disagree with them.

I thought it would be interesting to see the numbers - hoe many tickets and how much cash.

Hope that clears it up.

ConfusedJune 20th 2011.

James, this is an unpolitical article, it's just the facts. Eh?

AnonymousJune 21st 2011.

I write this to help 'Confused' :-)

Simon well knows the facts. The article is presented as the GROSS (not net) income from parking charges by Councils in the GMCR's area. It does not include enforcement costs.

It is tickets x face value

Both Simon and I know who (for example) the MCC official is who does know the net income, and I expect those who have appealed do too.

The article is also about Manchester City Council's proposals to raise charges. Trafford's and the other council's' proposals if any aren't mentioned.

The City Council has just completed a consultation in which they set out the reasons for raising charges. These are concerned with congestion and short v long term parking.

These were the stated reasons for their similar previous proposals a couple of years ago which they withdrew.

These reasons may not be justified but to ignore them and replace with some other reason is 'political'. Indeed the only way to oppose them requires you first to address their reasons which you may reject and add other considerations which must be taken into account and even outweigh them. The one discussed in the rants is the threat to commercial activities. I would add my dis amenity in not being able to have free parking for my lunch guests on Sunday. or a long lie-in with my lover on the same day

As I said there is perfectly good respectable journalist's way be biased

Recall the 'Tax Payers Alliance' useful service

'Go and rent a quote!'

Simon BinnsJune 21st 2011.

Honestly Anon, I'm incredulous that you've decided to read the article that way.

Honestly, for the purposes of this article I couldn't care less about the council's plans for parking charges. They warrant a mention at the bottom as a footnote due to their ongoing nature.

As the head of news at Manchester City Council will no doubt testify, if we wanted to be political, I'm capable of far better.

Hero
Smyth Harper, Manchester City CouncilJune 21st 2011.

Hi Simon - trying to goad me into a response, eh?

I certainly didn't read this as a "political" article - it's purely factual. Couple of points though, although the spending cuts do factor into this equation, it's not the sole reason. We haven't reviewed (ie increased) parking charges for six years and the dynamic of city centre traffic has changed in that time. There's a couple of reports on this on our website.

In terms of income generation, we are only allowed to use any revenue raised for specific purposes. Geeks can check out Section 55 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to discover what they are.

In response to John, it's a myth that Manchester City Council is anti-motorist. There's ample competitively priced parking in the city centre; pay and display charges compare favourably with other major cities (even after the increases come in); and there is lots of free parking at, for example, some metrolink stations to make it easier to use public transport. We want to offer fair choice and recognise that it all depends on the trip as to what the best way is to make it, whether that be by car, public transport or Shank's Pony.

On the claims that the city centre will become a wasteland as everyone flocks to the Trafford Centre, we actually don't see any evidence of that. In fact, the evidence suggests that people generally won't be deterred from coming in.

Smyth Harper
Head of News
Manchester City Council

1 Response: Reply To This...
Hero
Smyth Harper, Manchester City CouncilJune 21st 2011.

Oh, and here's some links to reports on this.

This one is on the parking charge increase (already approved):

http://bit.ly/l1X0fE

and this one is on the consultation for increasing the hours of operation

http://bit.ly/jlk7jP

The proposals on changing the hours will be considered at the next meeting of the council's Executive.

Sir Donald GoslingJune 21st 2011.

I think another job for Mr Simon Binns would be to look into the deal between NCP and MCC - which i believe is called NCP Manchester Ltd (NML) - and see what, if anything, Manchester council tax payers are getting out of it.

JohnthebriefJune 21st 2011.

The Council have done their best to ensure there is zero free parking in the city, as they are making a concerted effort to deter city centre residents from owning cars. See also their ludicrous city residents provisions in the abortive scheme a couple of years ago, which was withdrawn in the face of massive public opposition.

Please explain to me Mr Harper why the council will not introduce an affordable scheme that allows residents to keep cars in the city? Why have so many roads been completely removed from the picture by double-yellows? Why are those few roads where parking is still allowed marked out in individual bays, rather than stretches, so reducing the number of cars that can park? What do councillors pay for their private parking road at the side of the town hall? Has any research been done on the contribution to congestion caused by drivers looking for somewhere to park, following the reduction in available spaces? Why has everyone in the council involved in parking provision not resigned in shame and then committed ritual suicide on Albert Square?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Sir Donald GoslingJune 21st 2011.

You have a God-given right to own a car and you also have a right to park it where ever you want and you should not have to pay for that privilege. If we got rid of those blinking trams and buses then we would have much more room to park our cars and we should also close those useless train stations and turn them into open air car parks. Free ones obviously.
Detroit had the right idea after they gave free reign to the car and that is now a beautiful, thriving city.

COLONEL FREDERICK LUCASJune 21st 2011.

There are also many, many people who *arent* put off from visiting the city centre so i think Manchester is just going to just fine - high parking charges or not. If those many, many cash strapped people you speak of are too lazy to use public transport then i am glad they take themselves, their car and their £20 to Dumplington Precinct and leave my city centre and with one less car thank you very much and i can do my tea towel shopping in peace.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Hero
John NuttallJune 22nd 2011.

Thank you Colonel for pointing out to me that the reason I avoid public transport when travelling in from Yorkshire to Manchester is not because the carriages are run down, the last train back is before 11.00 p.m. on a Saturday night and full of drunken lunatics or that Victoria Station has all the charm of a public toilet it's actually because I'm lazy. Well, that's cleared that one up then

COLONEL FREDERICK LUCASJune 23rd 2011.

Dont mention it.

Simon BinnsJune 21st 2011.

Anon, despite the nagging feeling that this will be an excrutiating waste of time, I'm going to explain to you the mechanics of this story.

We asked all ten councils three questions: how many parking tickets were given out, how much income did the council make from those tickets and how many remain unpaid.

Then we presented those numbers.

The end.

I prefer to think that our readers are bright enough to make their own decisions about things once presented with the facts. We're not political. We're not affiliated to parties, people or anything else.

We're independent.

I find it rather insulting that you call my professional behaviour into question actually.

We're not the Daily Mail. Although I did hear a rumour parking tickets can also give you cancer.

Hero
Smyth Harper, Manchester City CouncilJune 22nd 2011.

Realise this is a big issue for people, so I’ll risk popping my head above the parapet again to deal with some of the questions that have been raised.

Manchester parking costs: There was a Which report a few months ago that cited King St car park as being one of the most expensive in the UK. Bit sneaky that one as it only gave the maximum cost of a four-hour stay in the most expensive car parks in each city, rather than the average costs of parking. The King St car park is in the heart of the city centre and is intended for short-term parking of up to two hours (£6.80). If you want to stay there for longer than that you can, but it does, indeed, get rather expensive (£14 for four hours). However, the average cost of a four-hour stay in a city centre car park during the day is a more reasonable £7.34. Still dear, but that's the kind of cost you're looking at in any big UK city. If you are in Manchester for the whole day then there are a number of car parks on the edge of the city centre which you can park in all day for about £3. You certainly don’t have to pay £20 to park in Manchester for the day.

On-street parking availability: We’ve got about 2,500 on-street spaces in the city centre. Far from reducing parking availability in the city centre, it forms part of our city centre strategic plan to ensure there’s adequate parking, both on-street and off-street. When the charges go up, on-street parking will be £2.70 for an hour. In Birmingham it will cost you £2.60. John, I don’t think there’s any major city in this country where you can park for free on the street.

Congestion: Part of the reason why we are looking at parking charges is to free up on-street spaces for short visits, which aims to have a positive effect on reducing congestion in the city centre as it frees up more bays. The idea is that if you want to park for longer, then an off-street car park should make more sense.

NCP/MCC car parks: Simon doesn’t need to do much digging to find out about the joint venture between MCC and NCP – the details are all contained in our annual statement of accounts (page 50, if you’re interested). The statement of accounts is published on our website. In 2009/10 we received a £1.22m dividend.

Resident parking: The city centre residents’ parking scheme is still active and has not been shelved. It is currently being reviewed.

I think that’s dealt with all of the serious points. Beautiful Manchester tea towels are available in the foyer of the Town Hall.

Smyth Harper
Head of News
Manchester City Council

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 22nd 2011.

Still no answer regards the above question as to where 'lots' of free parking may exist.........

CheesemanJune 22nd 2011.

Smyth. Very lucid indeed. If you put a Town Hall tea towel in a parking bay say in Chinatown for the day how much would one have to pay?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 22nd 2011.

if it was wrapped round you head and you were clutching a plastic cup with a certain smell if would be expensive probably £12O; if the beggar PC came along a discussion with adult social service. and maybe a night in the cells.

Simon BinnsJune 22nd 2011.

We've actually covered the MCC/NCP partnership and the £1.2m dividend before, in the piece I wrote on the city council's accounts on July 25.

Here's the link - www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/…/City-Council-accounts-exposed…

1 Response: Reply To This...
COLONEL FREDERICK LUCASJune 23rd 2011.

It seems Manchester tax payers are doing very nicely out of it. Bravo to all concerned. Where does the money go to? To improve public transport maybe?
However, it does rather give grist to the mill of those persecuted car owners who think that the evil MCC is stealing food out of their babies mouths with their crippling parking charges.
Do NCP do tea towels? They should do.

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