Parking fines rocket to over 17,000 in a year

IPSWICH: A purge on illegal parking came under fire today after it emerged the number of tickets issued in the borough rocketed by nearly 27 per cent last year.

During 2009 wardens issued 17,382 penalty notices compared with 13,688 in 2008 and 13,581 in 2007, according to Ipswich Borough Council figures.

The rise has led to criticism from a leading taxpayers’ pressure group, which branded the increased ticketing as unfair on drivers and a way of generating more cash for council coffers.

The revenue from last year’s fines is likely to have totalled in excess of �500,000.

The borough council, which deploys the parking wardens in Ipswich, remained unrepentant over the number of tickets handed out and sited safety as a big issue.

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However, there was at least some respite for motorists during the first four months of this year with the figures decreasing during that period to 4,989 tickets from 6,327 in 2009.

The council attributed last year’s rise to a concerted crackdown on illegal parking.

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Councillor Tanya de Hoedt, IBC Transport portfolio-holder, said: “It is our responsibility to keep the roads free from obstruction and clear for people to use the highway safely.

“We have been focusing more on this on-street violation over recent years which is why the increases have happened.

“We encourage people to come to Ipswich and legally park in one of the many thousands of spaces within the town where they can park safely showing consideration for others.”

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, took a different view.

He said: “It’s unfair on motorists that during a recession the local council decided to crack down on parking tickets and use drivers to generate more cash for their coffers.

“Residents in Ipswich and across Suffolk have seen their council tax double in the last ten years, yet services don’t seem to have improved.

“Now they are raking in even more money by trying to ticket more cars, what are they spending the money on?

“If the local authority is providing more parking, clearer signage and made payment cheaper and easier, they wouldn’t have to issue so many tickets, and local traders would probably see more shoppers.”

Ipswich has 15 civil parking enforcement officers who cover seven days a week from 6am to 10pm.

The most expensive parking fine is �70. However, this is reduced to �35 if the fine is paid within 14 days. The least expensive ticket is for �50 but it reduces to �25 if paid within two weeks.

Generally on-street parking tickets are more expensive than off-street penalties.

n What is your view on the number of parking tickets handed out in Ipswich? E-mail or write to Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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