Angry motorists hit back last night as it was revealed English councils made a record £756 million profit in parking fees in just one year.
The ‘eye-watering’ figure was up by a more than a third in five years, the RAC Foundation said. It was also £66 million higher than town halls had budgeted for in 2015-16.
Campaigners accused councils of filling their coffers by going after ‘easy targets’ and using motorists as ‘cash cows’.
Hugh Bladon, from the Alliance of British Drivers, said: ‘It’s a shocking state of affairs. It’s expensive enough running a car without councils robbing us blind to park. The councils are cash-strapped and motorists provide such an easy target.
‘Councils would do much better if they provided better parking provisions, especially in city centres. It would encourage people to visit high streets and spend more money, boosting the local economy.’
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, added: ‘Councils are raking it in from parking costs and motorists have every right to feel like they are being used as cash cows.
‘Funding our road system is important but there are already sky-high taxes on fuel and car ownership, so councils must be careful that they don’t heap even more pressure on to hard-pressed taxpayers. What’s also important is that local authorities do not see these charges as a way of plugging gaps in their finances, instead of taking important decisions on spending.’
Westminster Council in London made £55.9 million, followed by Kensington and Chelsea (£34.2 million) and Camden (£25.2 million).
Outside of the capital, Brighton & Hove was the highest earner, making £20.1 million, followed by Nottingham (£13.6m), Milton Keynes (£10.8m), Birmingham (£9.8m), Cornwall (£9.8m), Manchester (£8.9m) and Bristol (£7.7m).
Town hall officials collected £1.5 billion from on- and off-street parking and fines in 2015-16. Income from fines jumped 3 per cent to £338m and cash from fees and permits for on-street permits was up 2 per cent to £483m. Off-street parking income was up 5 per cent to £682million.
Councils describe the extra money as a surplus rather than a profit because money made from on-street parking must by law be spent on transport projects.
Judith Blake, transport spokesman at the Local Government Association, said: ‘Councils do not make a profit from parking.
‘Income from on-street parking charges is spent on running parking services and surpluses are spent on essential transport projects, such as tackling the £12 billion roads repair backlog.
‘The growing demand for parking from traffic increases on our roads means parking services are playing an increasingly important role in reducing congestion and keeping pedestrians and motorists safe.’
The excess cash raised by the 353 councils jumped by 9 per cent on last year and is up 34 per cent on the £693m made in 2011-12.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘These numbers might seem eye-wateringly large, but in part they reflect the growing competition for space in many of our towns and cities.
In 1995 there were only 21.4 million cars on Britain’s roads, today there are 30.7 million. Parking charges are one of the tools councils use to keep traffic moving.’
One in seven councils reported a loss, with running costs higher than parking income.
How many times do you hear the phrase "sorry mate, I didn't see you" following an accident on our roads?
This is heard over and over again when collisions happen so why are there so many accidents as a result of other people not being seen?
According to government statistics, the most common contributory factor to road accidents has consistently been a failure to look properly. In 2014 this was a feature in 55 per cent of recorded accidents  so any action to address the fundamental causes of this problem has enormous potential to reduce accident numbers.
The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has identified a shortcoming in driver training which if corrected has the potential to reduce the number of road accidents significantly.
When drivers and riders negotiate junctions, or pedestrians cross a road, it is essential to look for other road users before completing the manoeuvre. This requires a detailed observation of the area including potential hazards approaching from all directions. To do this requires looking from side to side by moving both your eyes and head. If this is not done properly there is a risk another road user will not be seen and an accident can occur.
When the RAF teaches pilots to fly, they learn about a shortcoming of human vision called saccadic masking. This is where you can look at something whilst scanning an area but not see it at all. It is caused by the way the brain processes information received from the eyes.
You effectively fail to see another road user, especially one with a narrow frontal aspect such as a cyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian.
When we move our heads, our eyes transmit a series of static images to our brain which then smoothes out the picture to give the illusion that we are seeing in a continuous sweep. However, between the static images (called ‘fixations’), there are gaps (called ‘saccades’). Any object that falls within a saccade will not be seen. The faster we move our heads or eyes, the greater the risk of failing to see another road user. The ABD has produced a groundbreaking video showing what saccadic masking is and how it can cause accidents at a typical junction .
The problem can be reduced by teaching people how to look properly; including the need to pause briefly when looking, especially at the ends of each sweep to ensure other road users can be seen. Pilots have been trained for decades in how to avoid the pitfalls of saccadic masking and it is unacceptable that tens of millions of road users have been left in ignorance of such an important issue .
However, not all 'failed to look properly' accidents can be attributed to saccadic masking. In order to estimate how many accidents might be prevented if adequate training and publicity were given, the ABD has studied a report by Gateshead Council analysing such accidents in the North East of England .
Assuming the results from the North East can be applied nationally, the ABD estimates that up to 25 per cent of all road accidents could be prevented.
In 2014 there were 115,673 reported injury accidents in the UK and according to the Department for Transport, the total value of preventing those accidents would be £11,388 million. If road accidents could be reduced by a quarter, this would mean around 29,000 fewer injury accidents per year with a saving of some £2.8 billion annually. This does not take into account savings in the much larger but unknown number of damage-only accidents.
Following a very positive meeting with the department for Transport, the ABD is encouraged the issue of saccadic masking will be addressed but we continue to push for the government to take action urgently by implementing a four-pronged approach:
1. In schools, younger pupils should be taught how to cross the road, especially the need to keep their head still for at least half a second at the end of each look to the left and to the right. As young adults approach driving age, the greater complexities of ensuring adequate visibility when negotiating junctions should be taught. This should include the blind spots created by windscreen pillars as well as saccadic masking. Young cyclists will need similar education in how to look properly, including at junctions.
2. When learning to drive, trainees should be taught about the dangers of saccadic masking and blind spots. These issues should be included in the theory test and examiners should check that drivers are acting appropriately when checking for the presence of other road users, especially at junctions.
3. For adult pedestrians and existing drivers, information campaigns need to be devised to explain the dangers of saccadic masking and how they can be overcome. Campaigns will need to be tailored to different media, e.g. television/cinema, social media, posters and newspapers.
4. Consideration could also be given to including advice on how to look properly in driver improvement courses, when offered to drivers instead of fixed penalties for driving offences.
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory comments:
"The ABD has always favoured a positive attitude towards to road safety with sensible education and training campaigns over rigid enforcement of simplistic legislation. A campaign to educate road users on how to overcome the dangers of saccadic masking is a prime example of such a positive approach which has the potential to significantly reduce the economic and human costs of road accidents at very little cost. I do hope the government will adopt the ABD's suggestions and help to improve road safety in a positive way."
1. Road Casualties Great Britain 2014, Department for Transport, 2015.
3. A Fighter Pilot’s Guide to Surviving on the Roads. John Sullivan, 2012. Download from http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/raf-pilot-teach-cyclists/.
4. Analysis of Casualties from Collisions Involving Drivers or Riders who 'Failed to Look properly' in North East England, 2008-2012. Gateshead Council, Project Report 48, 2014.
Changes implemented in TSRGD 2016
The principles of signing were set in law, to be precise Statute Law, Regulations and Directions of the Secretary of State for Transport.
Statute made it a duty for the Secretary of State to set out the base level of traffic signing for speed limits that the law required a local authority to erect.
The minimum number of signs, primarily 2 signs at the start and end of every limit and signs to remind drivers on lengthy road systems were set out in the Secretary of States Directions contained with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions.
This has been the benchmark of the Highway Code, driver training and law since the 1960's.
In the event, as the government anticipated, councils failed to place the signs as directed, the same Act of Parliament prohibited a court from convicting drivers of speeding.
Since the advent of camera enforcement, the Police/ CPS lambast the motorist for using technical defences for avoiding a conviction, when the law was written to protect the driver from lazy, crass or deliberately defective signing by local authorities.
The pressure to convict has resulted in demands by authorities to remove the need for repeater signing, that in itself is known to have caused confusion but has not prevented camera or police enforcement.
On Friday 22nd April new Regulations come into force.
The Directions within TSRGD have been altered beyond belief, the Must and Shall requirements for the placing of terminal signs have been revoked and there is merely a WHEN. The when being if an authority chooses to do so.
There is no longer any requirement to place any repeater signing anywhere as well.
Whilst the government draws authorities' attention to its signing guidance, that is all it is and it was published to advise authorities what they formerly (and formally) had to do.
And of course, that guidance is just that, it is not law.
Under statute law, the demand placed upon the Secretary of State to direct what is the minimum standard of signing required to give adequate guidance still exists.
His direction in the regulations requires NONE.
Therefore, under new law, to give adequate guidance to a driver, the definition of what is adequate set in Statute being that signing demanded by the Secretary of State authorities have to place NOTHING at all on any road. Unless they want to go to the expense of doing so of course.
For the avoidance of any doubt as to how perfidious the new TSRGD changes are, here's a for instance:
The traffic department of X local authority achieves a democratically reached decision (i.e., voted on and approved) that the signage on a given stretch of single-carriageway rural (say 50MPH) road no longer requires signage. It is no longer maintained, allowed to be obscured or removed.
The local authority then creates a Temporary 20mph Order imposing a limit on this unsigned stretch and the Scamera Partnership commences enforcement of that lower limit.
This results in a massive number of NIPs, fines, disqualifications and Awareness Course attendance fees etc as everyone using it is at least 200% above the (unsigned temporary 20mph) speed limit.
Under the new guidelines; while highly unscrupulous and totally unethical, the enforcement of this unsigned 20mph limit would be perfectly lawful and in compliance with the new law.
All prosecutions brought up under the Temporary Order must therefore still stand up in in court - unless the court chooses to interpret the word "adequate" in the guidance.
In Humberside for example, there are many roads with alternating 60 and 40 mph limits. As of April 22nd, Humberside would be at liberty to remove all 40mph signage and continue the legal (!) enforcement of the 40mph limit on those unsigned 40 limit stretches. How can this be supportive of good road safety - as opposed to anything other than blatant revenue generation.
In addition, this county enforces at 1 mph above a set limit even when speedometers are incapable of being within 10% accuracy in their displays.
Hence the reason the enforcement 'threshold' is said to be the speed limit, + 10% + 2 mph.
And of course, if the Humberside Partnerships are enforcing below the policy guidelines and taking people to court/ courses for exceeding limits with no way of knowing, what will they do when there are no signs, too?
Finally, with the stopping of legal aid, increasing defendant costs from £45 per hearing to £600 - plus the ramped up fining based upon percentages above a limit - what hope has any driver now?
The Daily Telegraph reporting on ABD research.
You can read the original article in the Daily Telegraph
If you’ve ever looked at an almost empty bus and wondered how it can be a viable proposition from the twin perspectives of cost and pollution, you’re not alone. Astonishingly, even the local authorities and companies that run the buses apparently have no means of comparing bus and car travel.
So I’m going to provide the hard figures for them. For years, government has been using environmental reasons to encourage public transport use. But where is the evidence that buses are cleaner per passenger-kilometre than cars?
When lobby group the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) asked councils to provide figures for bus passenger occupancy per kilometre, only two did so. One, Sheffield City Council, revealed that during the morning rush hour (7-10am) its buses carried only 2.3 passengers per kilometre. The average bus occupancy was a shade under 12 people.
When we buy a new diesel car, it must conform to the latest Euro 6 emissions legislation. According to research, the majority of the UK’s diesel buses are Euro 3, the standard of 16 years ago CREDIT: PA
Then there are the buses themselves. When we buy a new diesel car, it must conform to the latest Euro 6 emissions legislation. According to the ABD’s research, the majority of the UK’s diesel buses are Euro 3, the standard of 16 years ago. Brian Gregory of the ABD said: “Even if they upgraded their fleets to Euro 5, it wouldn’t lower harmful emissions.” Indeed it wouldn’t. Sheffield City Council admitted: “On-road measurements indicate the NOx [nitrogen oxide] emissions performance of the newer Euro 5 double-decker buses is similar to its predecessors. The Euro 5 single-decker buses generate more NOx than their predecessors.”
The Government claims that average vehicle occupancy when commuting is 1.2 people per car CREDIT: ALAMY
Compare vehicles, and bus journeys don’t fare favourably against cars. The Government claims that average vehicle occupancy when commuting is 1.2 people per car (down from the overall average of 1.6). Real tailpipe emissions gathered by researchers at Sheffield University show that a Euro 6 diesel car emits 0.43g/km of NOx, meaning harmful exhaust emissions will be 0.36g/km per person. For a Euro 3 bus that the researchers found emitted 4.2g/km of NOx, the emissions per km per person will register at 1.83.
The NOx factor
As you may remember from the VW emissions scandal, petrol cars are much cleaner than diesels when it comes NOx. A Euro 5 petrol engine emits 0.13g/km of NOx. That’s 0.11g/km per person commuting. Compare it with the latest bus tested which produces 3.02g/km of NOx and again it doesn’t come out as favourably: the bus emits 1.31g/km per person.
So even the cleanest bus pumps out more than three-and-a-half times the nitrogen oxides of a new diesel car. And the average bus – most are the dirtier Euro 3 variety, remember – will emit more than 16 times the NOx of the cleanest car.
When it comes to particulate matter, essentially smoke, buses do even worse. The average bus in the UK billows out 28 times the particle matter of a diesel car. Even the latest bus emits eight times a diesel car’s particles.
The Government continues to plug the following tired line on its website: “We’re working to reduce emissions by promoting public transport choices.” It, along with the anti-car lobby, needs to wake up and smell the NOx coming from the country’s outmoded bus fleet.
Mobile cameras increase Fatal and Serious Collisions (FSC) by 30%; more than cancelling out any benefits of fixed cameras
For many years the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has highlighted the failure of all types of speed limit enforcement cameras to effect genuine reductions in road accident rates; despite providing a steady income stream for police forces, enforcement equipment manufacturers, awareness course providers and other vested 'road safety' business interests.
Following on from his analysis showing (at best) zero benefit from London's 1,000 cameras 1, a new study 2 of cameras in Wales by highly-respected transport statistician Professor Mike Maher has unequivocally confirmed our view. His best estimates, based on official site data, are that mobile cameras increase Fatal and Serious Collisions (FSC) by 30%; more than cancelling out any benefits of fixed cameras.
However, most site boundaries in Wales and elsewhere are so narrowly-defined that they ignore what happens nearby. By analysing FSC data within 1km of cameras, independent researcher, Idris Francis 3, found that those nearby adverse effects lead to even worse results.
Further, the above studies complement and reinforce the findings of two earlier studies of Thames Valley data by independent researcher, David Finney4. Finney established that all reductions previously attributed by analysts and vested interests alike to speed camera effects actually happened before camera installation; as casualty numbers automatically returned to normal from the abnormal levels for which most sites had been selected. That analyst after analyst had chosen to ignore or trivialise this statistical "regression to mean" effect, well understood for more than 100 years, was both inexplicable and surely culpable.
A larger-scale, soon to be published, study by independent researcher, Idris Francis 3, of FSC within 250m, 500m and 1000m of cameras in 20 English police areas plus Scotland and Wales, consistently finds little benefit (and even that short-lived) within 500m — but from 500m to 1000m adverse effects — more than sufficient to result in net adverse effects after the first few years.
Maher has also expressed reservations about the alleged effectiveness of Scottish speed camera operations 5, as has the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) 6.
The response of the authorities and other vested interests to soundly-based criticisms that their claims were clearly nonsense has certainly been consistent. Since the first official reports from 2002 onwards, they have sought to bury their heads in the sand — in the hope that the damning and mounting evidence that cameras are useless for road safety purposes will simply go away.
Given how very lucrative are speed cameras and their downstream operations; it is hardly surprising that Camera Partnerships and other financially-involved, vested interest groups continue to systematically and cynically misrepresent the reporting of casualty data trends and the effects on them of speed cameras.
The emerging evidence clearly shows that speed cameras are nothing less than a monumental waste of a very great deal of money — that ought to be put to better use elsewhere on: e.g. road and junction improvements, dualling etc.
The ABD today puts all those involved in these malpractices on notice that the game is up, and the gravy train is about to hit the buffers. Every effort must be made to bring to book those who have knowingly misrepresented the evidence, in ways which at best amount to gross incompetence; and at worst to gross misconduct in public office, publishing false information in public documents and obtaining money by false pretences. Objective oversight and control of these hitherto unregulated quangos is long overdue.
Bristol has the most anti-car mayor since Ken Livingstone. Have drivers given up in Bristol?
You can read the article here.
John Hemming, a past MP has said the council had been "economical with the truth" on how it would spend the money raised in fining drivers caught in bus lanes.
The Alliance of British Drivers has raised concerns relating to permission for a huge 30 ft electronic advertising board at the junction and M5 and M6. According to the poll hosted by the Express and Star, 75% of people agree with us.
You can find the article here.
Welcome to the Alliance of British Drivers' new website.