A staggering £22 million has been raised from parking fines in Islington over the last two years – despite a decrease in the number of parking enforcement officers employed by the council.
Data obtained under a Freedom of Information request shows that from January 2013 to December 2014, 416,608 parking tickets were given out and a total of £21,924,076 was raised for the council.
Islington council currently employs 123 parking enforcement officers across the borough. However, from January 2013 to March 2014 the council employed 135 parking enforcement officers.
— o_Emily_o (@Em_evorg_George) July 4, 2013
The data also includes tickets that were given out using CCTV operators.
Despite the reduction in officers, £11,641,755 was raised in 2014 compared to £10,282,321 the previous year.
The trend of an increase year-on-year looks set to continue.
January 2015 registered a significant increase from 2014. The amount raised was £863,258, compared to just £791,823 in the same month last year.
Can't work out if it's genius or absurd (or both) that Islington Council site refers to your "shopping basket" when paying a parking ticket!
— Nat Coombs (@NatCoombs) March 7, 2015
Andy Silvester, campaigns director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s hard to shake the suspicion that hard-pressed motorists are being used as a cash cow. Islington is a busy borough and it’s right that there are some parking restrictions in place, but it’s important they they’re proportionate and that fines are a last resort.
“Motorists will be stunned by this figure and will hope that the money is ploughed back into the road network.”
This was echoed by Andrew Allison, head of campaigns at the Freedom Association, who said: “Islington appears to be determined to raise as much as it can out of motorists for the most minor infringements.
An Islington community support officer just tried to give me a parking ticket as I delivered books to OXFAM. Jesus. Just unbelievable.
— Rachel Cooke (@MsRachelCooke) March 10, 2015
“Parking fines exist to keep the public highway free from obstructions, and should not be used as an alternative source of income.”
Regarding the CCTV fines, Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Too many council CCTV networks have become a means of boosting their revenue, with millions of pounds in fines being handed to drivers across the country.
“The public will rightly want to know how much of the £22m Islington Council has put back into making parking easier and safer for local residents.”
A political party was set up in Islington ten years ago to contest the council’s parking policy called Local Freedom. The founder, Tim Newark, said: “Islington is notorious for making money out of parking fine misery. Our party won hundreds of votes and the parking regime was modified in Highbury Barn, but it seems the council has learned little from then and is still raking in millions.”
However, the policy was defended by Martin Klute, Labour councillor for St Peters ward. “The fines are needed, and possibly need to be increased to reduce the number of parking offences,” he said.
Islington Council sanctions legalised extortion. Recent severe back pain. Parking ticket given at 10,00 pm. Medical documentation rejected
— Sue Hubbard (@Sue_writer) October 23, 2012
This was supported by the Green party councillor for Highbury East, Caroline Russell. She said: “Parking wardens keep the roads safe for people on foot, those with disabilities and people on bikes and deter anti-social parking – blocking dropped kerbs etc. They are paid for out of the revenue from fines. We need as many as are required to deter anti-social parking.”
The enforcement officers do not work on performance-related pay, but the service is outsourced to a private contractor, NSL Services. As part of this agreement, civil enforcement officers have no targets for the number of parking tickets issued. NSL Services are penalised by the council for any wrongly issued tickets.