Local authorities to be given new powers to fine motorists

12.00 | 28 August 2012 | | 10 comments

Motorists face new fines for traffic offences under plans to transfer powers from police to local authorities, according to the Telegraph.

The Telegraph report says that local authorities have lobbied the Government for the right to fine drivers who make illegal turns, encroach on yellow boxes or drive in bus and cycle lanes.

The report goes on to say that ministers have indicated they are ‘sympathetic’ to the plans, while motoring groups have expressed concerns that councils will see them as a ‘cash cow’.

The Telegraph says that the DfT has been in discussions with 20 councils about giving them the new powers, including Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Plymouth, Reading, Salford, Sheffield and Southampton.

The Telegraph says that in London in 2011, local authorities used their extended powers to fine 800,000 motorists a total of ‘at least £50 million’, in addition to at least £250 million in parking fines.

Paul Watters, speaking for the AA, said: “This will alienate drivers who make a simple mistake.

“I think the risk is the [CCTV] cameras will click away automatically where there is a traffic management problem, such as a badly designed junction. It means there will be no incentive to improve junctions, given the amount of money councils can make from these fines.”

Peter Box, chairman of the LGA’s Economy and Transport Board, said: “Very little is currently done to stop the minority of inconsiderate drivers who block cycle lanes and bus lanes, pull up in cycle boxes at traffic lights and clog box junctions causing long tailbacks in rush hour.

“Not only do these needless infringements cause frustration to responsible motorists, they can also put cyclists at risk by forcing them into busy traffic.

“Granting councils the power to tackle impatient drivers who break the law and put others at risk in an effort to shave seconds off their journey would unquestionably help ease congestion, reduce pollution and make roads safer for everyone.”

Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “We don’t have a problem with the enforcement of moving traffic offences, but much will depend on the quality and level of enforcement.”

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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    You’re not speaking for me Mr Watters. I’m already “alienated” by the shocking driving I see every day and lawless, dangerous roads.

    AA member, Hampshire
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    Absolutely brilliant idea, LAs are always blamed for not keeping cities moving, then they complain they don’t enforce bus/cycle lanes. At least if it is the LAs responsibility to keep the roads running they have the powers to make it so!

    Allan Robins, Hull
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    People understandably remember fondly days when the scale of roads policing appeared sufficient to its task. But recent decades have seen an extraordinary increase in the number of vehicles, licence-holders, mileage travelled, length of road network, and with increasing capabilities of vehicles, opportunity for motorists to harm themselves and others. The scale of increase required to maintain at policing at anything like the same level would be unfeasible even if funding were available. Realistically the Highway Authorities have no choice but to look for new and funded ways of dealing with these issues, which our residents and politicians expect. It is sad but predictable that recognising this reality earns such criticism. This concept may have potential for abuse but scrutiny of public bodies has never been easier. Actual occurrence of malpractice is rare but always paraded as widespread by those already decided against an idea. It may not be a perfect solution, but nor is wishing it was 1970 again.

    Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton
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    It is simply wrong in principle that the authority, that any organisation that operates enforcement, also gets to keep the money – human nature, sadly, being what it is.

    It is a fundamental breach of legal principles going back to Magna Carta – amost 800 years ago.

    Idris Francis
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    One cannot trust some local authorities to act in a fit and proper manner.

    In London in certain council areas some put up road or advertising signage that would block the motorist’s vision of the legal signs. Most signs that were obstrucetd were no left turn or right turn signs and cameras were strategically placed that took the number of any offending motor vehicle.

    The matter was brought to attention by a MAG member who rode the streets every day. Many thousands of pounds have had to be returned but the offending signage still remains up and others unaware of the illegality are still getting fined for it.

    It’s all reported as a matter of fact and cannot be disputed.

    bob craven Lancs
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    This proposal has nothing to do with making our roads safer or to help traffic move more smoothly. It is a false economy and is intended to further dilute police presence on our streets. Sadly, bit by bit, we are losing the police service that our parents and grandparents took for granted. I admit that I am of an age that if a policeman stopped me in the street or in my car that I can’t help but feel that I must be guilty of something and no matter if the officer is a twenty one year old, I treat him or her with the respect the uniform deserves.

    In years to come, when local councils or privately run companies provide biased and inadequate road policing, the public will long for the days when we had a Police Service who served the public professionally and impartially.

    Charles Dunn RoadDriver.co.uk
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    It is probably time to reach into the wardrobe and dust off my old police helmet, I could be needed back on the streets! You see when I used to wear it the police service did enforce plus much much more but over time the collective shoulders of the service seemed to have taken on a distinctly sloping profile, allowing so many responsibilites to slip to others.

    Pat, you may not have noticed but the police have for a long time not touched any ‘lining’ offences, that is now the civil enforcement officer. There are too many ‘partnerships’ nowadays and sadly much slips through between the partners who I am sure are convinced that the other one is doing it. Perhaps it might be cheaper all round to issue every law abiding citizen with a set of handcuffs and a stab vest and say over to you. Sorry they have already done that – they call them PCSOs – oh but no handcuffs!

    Alan Hale – South Gloucestershire.
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    Don’t take away the 24/7 nature of policing and allow councils to operate a daytime service. If this is going to work allow BOTH to enforce, with the CEOs stepping back if police are present. There are nowhere near enough traffic police to function efficiently, if we are not spending to improve things then allow enforcement in parallel.

    Olly, Lancs.
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    This whole idea stinks of the thin edge of the wedge to privatise the Police. The Police Federation warned us about this and lo and behold here it comes. This will not be a good move for many reasons, too many to go into here. This will be a costly exercise for the rate payer so block it while you can folks or forever regret it…

    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    And what of the motorist? Right now the majority of drivers know that Councils Highways departments do the “signing and lining” and the making of TROs (traffic regulation orders) and the police do the enforcing of those traffic regulations and dealing with violations. If someone not in police uniform tried to stop me for an alleged traffic offence, my first words would be “by what authority are you…”. Keep it simple: police = enforcement. Why should the council tax payer pay for a whole new level of bureaucracy in the council parallel to that in the police?

    Pat, Wales
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