Coffee House

Parking-obsessed Pickles stands up to Norman Baker on fines

15 July 2013

2:16 PM

15 July 2013

2:16 PM

Coalition relations are fairly harmonious at the moment. There is, though, a wee row brewing that embodies the different ways in which the two Coalition parties think about the world.

Norman Baker, the Lib Dem Transport Minister, wants to allow all councils to charge London levels of parking penalties. Baker see this as localism, allowing councils flexibility. Tories — led by Eric Pickles and Philip Hammond — see it as a ‘stealth tax’ which will allow lazy councils to balance the books by fleecing the motorist rather than making their services more efficient. They complain that if Baker gets his way, parking fines could rise by 29 per cent across the country.


Pickles, who in the words of one colleague is ‘obsessed with bins and parking’, also worries that higher parking fines will deter people from shopping in town centres. Instead, they’ll be driven to out of town shopping complexes with large car parks. This would undercut the work the government is trying to do to revive the high street.

I understand that Tory ministers are confident that they’ll succeed in blocking this change. But I suspect this won’t go down well with the Liberal Democrats’ councillor base.

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Show comments
  • Alex Walter

    I suspect this won’t go down well with the Liberal Democrats well that is a fact
    and if you are always travelling around and looking for airport parking at gatwick check this out

  • Alexsandr

    high parking charges are discrimnatory. I am fit so I can park for free and walk. But how to the disabled or people with kids manage?

  • Peter Stroud

    Sounds to me as if Secretary Pickles has got it absolutely right.

  • fazerman

    Tory Wandsworth Council gets £48 million directly from council tax and £28 million from parking permits, charges and fines. The £28 million is all incorporated into its general budget, yet it continues to lie that it has the lowest council tax in the country. Let’s get this straight: Parking Tax = Council Tax. When is Pickles going to stop this racket?

  • Colonel Mustard

    I’ve never agreed with councils levying fees on street parking anyway as those streets really belong to the people not the councils. But I strongly object to the cynical way the fees are set in order to ensure over-payment, e.g. £1.43 per hour. A racket.

  • Chris Rose

    I think councils should be allowed to fine people at the national rate. What they should not be allowed to do is to keep the proceeds.

    Fines are to punish wrong-doing. They should be issued fairly and impartially. If the authority levying the fine can keep the proceeds, then there is always the suspicion that the fines are being issued to raise revenue and consequently that the offence committed is not a serious wrong.

    Offenders should not feel that their money is being given to good cause. Fine money should go to the national exchequer.

  • HookesLaw

    Being transport Minister does not involve parking charges. So pickles can see him off.

    This Telegraph report
    points out
    ‘Town halls are supposed to control parking to improve traffic flow and stop
    gridlock occurring, and they are prohibited by law from using their powers
    in this area simply to boost their income.
    However, ministers and their advisers believe a growing number of councils
    seek to get round these rules by earmarking the cash raised for other
    transport projects.’

    It seems to me councils are already overcharging and going beyond their powers and they can be tory as well as any other party.

  • Alexsandr

    Pickles is right. Vindictive councils have been sucking the life blood out of towns for years with punitive parking.
    And the national trust.

    • telemachus

      For once Alexandr you are correct
      Sadly Pickles, still on an NHS waiting list for a gastric band, is also right
      But not because of fears about stealth tax
      Because we need to get as many back into our Northern town centres as we can
      They are dying by degree
      PS I suggest you join the National Trust

      • Telemackus

        Yes, Pickles is a bloated monster who wants to steal from the poor and oppress our northern folk. Soon he and all the evil tories will be gone and labour will rule for a thousand years.

        • Wessex Man

          You are such a failed comedian.

    • Chris_M_Ward

      The National Trust charge extortionate parking fees, in order to persuade people to become members and get free parking. This enables the NT to claim that they have far more supporters than they actually have. Most of their members are just trying to avoid the extortionate parking fees!

      • Alexsandr


        lets bring in the Malvern Hill Conservators too. They seem to have the ear of the county councils with unnecessary road parking restrictions to protect their car park revenue.

  • MichtyMe

    Can anyone name any other State, except N Korea, where stuff like this is decided by central government.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Scotland probably.

      • Wessex Man

        Thankfully I don’t live there but love the place, the half-witted Mayor voted in last year wants or wanted parking permits on all streets of Bristol. This buffon, elected to his new post at the same time as Police Commissioners doesn’t have a clue how a city the size of Bristol works. He is a gift from this useless Government just to annoy and drive away business from the City!

  • sir_graphus

    “Liberal” run boroughs have the most punitive, vindictive parking regimes in the country. Lord knows why anyone would open a shop or any business in a Liberal run borough. I am convinced that the reason the traffic is so terrible in Richmond is that it’s full of cars desperately looking for somewhere to legally stop.

    • Wessex Man

      My Council, Tory run Wiltshire are just as bad as any Liberal Council, a couple of years ago they doubled all car parking charges, the Tory Councillor responsible for parking said this would make people stay in Town Centres longer!

      Of course the only effect it had was to drive away shoppers which resulted in more Town Centre shops closing and the whole operation by the Council who had hired extra staff and bought new vehicles to cope with the demand found themselves with a loss. MAGIC!!!!!!!!

    • Colin

      Richmond is Tory led. To honest, after a load of pre-election hype and b*llsh!t, nothing much has changed.

      • sir_graphus

        Richmond was Liberal for years. That’s when the ethos was engraved on the all too willing permanent staff. Not that impressed with the failure of new Tory incumbents to change anything.