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Councils to be given power to hand out £70 traffic fines

THE DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT is giving local councils the power to hand out traffic fines for minor offences later this year.

Under the scheme, which is set to be rolled out in December, local councils can fine people for “moving traffic offences”.

Currently, the fines are governed only by the police across the majority of the UK.

Under the new rules, councils can take responsibility for at least 20 moving traffic offences.

It is currently thought that most drivers will be fined up to £70 for the offences.

These offences include performing banned turns, using box junctions incorrectly and also driving in formal cycle lanes.

Last October, the Department for Transport talked about the scheme and hoped to introduce it in Spring- but the traffic and technology team suggested that this initial deadline was subject to change.

It has now been moved to December.

What is the issue?

The RAC has voiced concerns about the scheme and warned that councils could use the system to get more revenue.

In London and Cardiff, local authorities are already allowed to issue these traffic fines.

According to the RAC data,  freedom of information request made by the RAC to all local authorities that currently have the power to enforce these offences in England and Wales – the London boroughs and Cardiff Council – found revenue from issuing penalty charge notices (PCNs) to drivers increased by 25% between the two financial years (2016/2017).

An RAC spokesperson said they were “fearful” that some authorities “may be over enthusiastic in using their new powers for revenue raising reasons, to the detriment of drivers.”

They added: “While the Government has pledged to give councils advice on how best to let drivers know enforcement is taking place, what’s really needed is clear guidance on making sure enforcement is always carried out fairly.

“Drivers who blatantly ignore signage or highway rules should expect penalties, but there are instances which are not always clear-cut.

“For example, large yellow box junctions can be particularly problematic to get across without stopping, often due to their design, so it’s important common sense is applied rather than instantly issuing penalties to drivers.”

However, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, Cllr David Renard, said the new move is a good thing.

Speaking to Local Gov, he said: ‘Councils have been calling for powers to make our roads safer and less congested for all road users.

‘Powers to enforce against moving traffic offences, such as banned turns, weight restricted roads and yellow box junctions, will help to keep local roads moving and make our air cleaner.

‘It is good news that councils are being given these new responsibilities and it is important that access to these powers is made as simple as possible.’

The Local Government Association, which represents councils, says they need the powers because police have “largely ceased to enforce moving traffic offences”.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has been approached for comment on the proposed plans.

Do you think councils should be given powers to issue traffic fines?