As of 4 January 2010, Hackney Council will have the power to tow away your car and impound it if you have three or more unpaid parking fines.
The trial, which is being organised by London Councils, comes into force in the New Year in Ealing, Camden, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Hackney. It will give the council greater authority to remove and potentially crush legally parked cars if the driver is identified as being a persistent parking fine evader.
A database of cars with unpaid fines is being compiled and 100 drivers have been identified by Hackney council as being “parking fine evaders who should be caught, penalised and made to pay the money they owe as part of this pilot scheme.”
Councillor Alan Laing, Labour cabinet member for neighbourhoods in Hackney said: “This pilot is aimed at a small minority of motorists who persistently refuse to pay three or more of the parking fines they have accrued, without lodging a timely appeal. The new powers make it easier for the six participating councils to remove persistent evaders’ vehicles.”
Neil Herron of parkingappeals.co.uk said: “It smacks of Big Brother”. As far as Sasha Gallardo, 27, who lives and works in Hackney, is concerned, the council already has too much power over parking and they are “abusing their powers to make money.”
Sasha had his own car towed away by the council three months ago after he parked on a stretch of road in Chattham place. The road had recently been dug up as part of a road improvements programme and the new yellow lines had not yet been painted. The council towed Mr Gallardo’s car away, despite that fact that he had photographic evidence to show his car was not parked on a yellow line. It cost £380 to retrieve and his appeal was ignored.
Mr Gallardo, who is originally from Spain, said: “Back home if your car is towed away you are notified. When this happened a few months ago in Hackney I thought my car had been stolen because for four days no one notified me.”
Angelina Jones, 28, also from Hackney said these new powers were worrying because parking inspectors in Hackney were already “over-Zealous”. She said that having your car towed away and destroyed could have a huge and devastating impact on people whose livelihood is tied to their car, or for families who drive their children to school. Ms Jones likened the new scheme to ‘terror tactics’.
She said: “most people are trying to park in the right places. Everyone knows the government is broke, this is just another way for them to make money at our expense.”