Edinburgh's serial parking offenders to get vehicles towed instead of tickets

'PERSISTENT offenders' who regularly flout parking restriction across Edinburgh will have their cars towed away, councillors have warned.

Parking chiefs believe £30 penalty notices don’t do enough to halt selfish drivers from ignoring restrictions – so will instead take a tougher stance to stop motorists turning a blind eye to yellow lines.

In a report to the council’s transport and environment committee, officers said: “Unfortunately, the cost of a parking ticket does not always act as a sufficient deterrent to some drivers, who regularly park in contravention of the parking restrictions and accept a parking ticket in order to park close to their desired location.

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“As these parking tickets are paid quickly, no further action is currently being taken against these drivers or their vehicles.”

Parking attendants and police preparing to remove a car. Pic: 
Andrew Stuart/NW: Angie Brown.Parking attendants and police preparing to remove a car. Pic: 
Andrew Stuart/NW: Angie Brown.
Parking attendants and police preparing to remove a car. Pic: Andrew Stuart/NW: Angie Brown.

Officers believe vehicles regularly ignoring parking regulations “can be upsetting to members of the public” and “generate a high number of complaints to the council”.

They add: “To address this problem, [we] are proposing to introduce a removal priority for persistent offenders – ie vehicles which regularly receive parking tickets.

“Should a persistent offender receive a parking ticket, the vehicle would be classed as a high priority removal.”

The council will ask enforcement officers to target those who repeatedly ignore parking restrictions.

Currently the council does have the power to tow away vehicles parking without a permit, but will now be able to remove vehicles who have tallied up too many parking tickets on yellow lines. The number of tickets needed to become a “persistent offender” will be determined early next year.

Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said: “Local residents and road users are increasingly frustrated by drivers who treat parking tickets as simply the cost of parking in the city or, for commercial vehicles, simply as the ‘cost of doing business’.

“We will prioritise enforcement action against persistent offenders including removing their vehicles from the roadside. If the prospect of a parking ticket doesn’t put the driver off parking irresponsibly, it’s more likely the inconvenience and expense of getting their car back from the pound will.”

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Currently, those who have their vehicles towed away have to pay £180 to release it from the pound in Leith. There is a daily storage fee of £20 and parking tickets will increase to £60 after 14 days. Enforcement officers currently prioritise removing vehicles that pose a safety risk and those who owe more than £500 in unpaid tickets.

Green Cllr Chas Booth backed the move by the council – with the authority unable to increase the amount of money billed to motorists in parking fines.

He said: “I welcome the strategy to try and address the problems of persistent offenders.

“What they are really concerned about is their vehicle being towed. The price of getting a ticket, they just regard as the price of parking in the city. I think we really need to try and crack down on these and that’s very welcome within this report.”

He added: “Public perception at what is perceived to be, in some areas of the city, a lack of enforcement means we do have to look at this again.

“I’m still getting lots of constituents saying double parking on Leith Walk is absolutely a blight. I’m asking for an annual report so we can monitor what’s happening in terms of enforcement.”

The council’s parking team receives around 80 requests for enforcement each month from members of the public – but in 90 per cent of the cases, no action is taken as the vehicle is moved away before officers arrive.

Around 94 per cent of the requests from members of the public each month are related to “short-term parking”, such as parking on double yellow lines outside a shop or delivery vehicles.

Councillors have also agreed to continue a “grace period” of ten minutes for goods vehicles to load and unload without facing enforcement action in all parts of the city.