Councils across the Black Country have lost out on tens of thousands of pounds in unpaid parking fines – because tickets were given to foreign drivers who could not then be traced.
The parking fines were issued to vehicles with foreign registration plates and therefore their owners could not be tracked down through the DVLA.
In Sandwell 622 parking tickets were issued to foreign registered vehicles last year which could not be traced.
If each were to pay the maximum fine of £70 this would generate £43,540 in income.
The issue of foreign drivers not paying parking fines has been an increasing problem for councils over the past few years. In 2009, 188 of unpaid fines were thought to be foreign drivers, but in 2010 more than 280 could not be traced and in 2011, more than 400 did not pay their fines. By 2012 the number had increased by more than 50 per cent on the previous year.
In Wolverhampton 168 parking tickets were issued to untraceable foreign cars in the last financial year, and the council potentially lost out on up to £9,600. Over the past five years they have lost out on £27,640.
The numbers of unpaid parking fines issued to foreign vehicles in Wolverhampton has also been steadily rising. In 2009 only 64 could not be traced, but by 2010 it was 89 and rose to 78 in 2011, and then this figure more than doubled by 2012.
In Dudley and Stafford, however, only 22 fines issued to untraceable foreign vehicles, costing Dudley Council up to £1,365 and Stafford £1,160.
In Walsall there were 73 unpaid fines, if the owners had paid the maximum £70 fine, the council would have lost out on £5,110.
Sandwell’s cabinet member for highways and the environment Councillor Maria Crompton said: “Obviously we do everything we can to collect parking fines but sometimes it is almost impossible to trace the drivers.
“This is not a problem just in Sandwell. It is a problem nationwide.”
Councillor Peter Bilson, Wolverhampton City Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration and prosperity, said: “While we work incredibly hard to collect penalty charge notice monies owed to the council, despite our best efforts it is not always possible to do so.”
Drivers have a duty to register their vehicle in the UK after they have been living here more than six months. Dudley Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for transport, said:“On occasions it is plainly obvious that contacting people from overseas becomes impossible.”