Local authorities throughout the country will soon be able to issue fines for minor traffic offences, thanks to new legislation…
Councils Can Issue New Fines
Local councils are set to receive new powers that’ll allow them to issue fines for minor traffic offences. It’s thanks to new legislation being drawn up by the Department for Transport (DfT). Critics, however, have suggested that the move will simply render motorists a “lucrative cash stream”. As it stands, only authorities in London and Cardiff can issue fines for moving traffic contraventions; elsewhere, the matter is handled by police forces. Under the DfT’s plans, however, all councils will be able to issue £70 penalties for making illegal turns, driving in cycle lanes or stopping in a yellow box junction.
Rachel Maclean, the Transport Minister, acknowledged the new powers in the House of Commons. She said that the new changes “will take several months to bring into force. After which those local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers can apply for a designation order for moving traffic enforcement”. She added, “statutory guidance is being developed for local authorities on how to use the powers; including publicising their introduction in advance, to ensure that enforcement is carried out fairly”. The Transport Committee, which advises MPs on policy, initially suggested the new powers be granted as police no longer have the resources to provide adequate enforcement.
A Lucrative Revenue Tool
Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, believes the new powers will help councils clampdown on ‘hotspots’. However, he’s also raised concerns that they may be exploited to generate funds. He explained, “while it makes sense for all local authorities to have the power to enforce problematic hotspots, there is a risk that some councils might use this as a lucrative revenue raising tool”. He added, “we also feel that in the first instance warning letters should be issued to drivers rather than a fine to reduce the chances of councils using this as a lucrative cash stream”.
Lyes also called on local councils to ensure that their road layouts were comprehensible and didn’t confuse motorists; thereby making it unlikely that drivers will find themselves being ‘snared’. He suggested that, in the event of an area seeing a large amount of fines, there may be a problem with the road themselves.
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