Parking fine income is lost due to late replies

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Sheffield Council has lost up to £10,000 from parking fines after not responding to appeals by motorists within statutory deadlines.

Figures obtained by opposition Liberal Democrats show that, in the first six months of 2013, 44 fines were cancelled due to a failure to respond in 56 days, while 109 fines were not contested in court.

The unpaid penalty charge notices represent a loss of up to £10,710, if the maximum £70 penalty had been paid – the penalties are reduced for prompt payment.

Meanwhile, the average response time to informal challenges to parking fines more than doubled from 28 days in January to 65 days in June.

Coun Ian Auckland, opposition Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, said: “Clearly, there will be some cases where the council is right to drop the matter due to new information, but it’s hard to understand why parking officials contest fines all the way to ‘court’ before eventually admitting their mistake.

“What’s more, the time taken to respond at an early stage to representation is unacceptable, as justice delayed is justice denied.”

Coun Leigh Bramall, council cabinet member for business, skills and development, replied: “The fines have not been contested where new information is brought forward during an appeal, meaning someone has been fined unfairly, not because of lack of organisation.

“The Liberal Democrats seem to be calling for us to tear up the right of motorists to appeal the fines regardless, which would be deeply unfair.

“When mistakes are made it is right that they are corrected.

“Only the Lib Dems could suggest that the council should try to fine people even when there is evidence that they shouldn’t be.”