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Government launches call for evidence to examine council practices in issuing Penalty Charge Notices

Updated: May 6

The Government is seeking evidence regarding councils’ use of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for traffic violations, amid concerns that local authorities may be generating excessive surpluses from these fines.

In the recently announced Plan for Drivers, the Secretary of State for Transport outlined measures aimed at addressing issues surrounding the issuance of PCNs for moving traffic violations. These include contraventions such as no entry, no left or right turn, prohibited vehicles, unlawful entry into box junctions, and driving in mandatory cycle lanes.

These enforcement measures are intended to assist the police in managing traffic and reducing congestion. However, concerns have arisen that some councils might be using PCNs as a revenue-generating mechanism rather than solely as a traffic management tool.

The call for evidence, part of the Government's review, seeks to gather insights into current practices and assess possible policy changes. The inquiry will explore options for limiting local authorities' ability to generate excessive surpluses from traffic violations.

This initiative forms part of broader efforts to ensure that enforcement is carried out fairly and proportionately, aligning with the public's expectations for traffic management and local authority conduct.

The findings from this call for evidence will inform potential future policy proposals, with the ultimate goal of maintaining an effective and equitable system for managing traffic restrictions across the country.

Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “Councils have powers to enforce traffic regulations in order to ensure that our roads are safe for all users and that people can move about without undue interference.  They are not an alternative way for local councillors to raise taxes, or decide who  gets to travel where. 

“This call for evidence looks at an issue that even good councils, doing the right thing, are sometimes accused of – the suggestion that traffic management measures with penalty fees attached are there to raise money from motorists more than anything else. 

“I want to hear the views of local councils, but also motorists, motoring organisations and the public in general on this issue. 

“Should government remove any suggestion there is a “profit motive” for local councils – such as by requiring any surpluses that councils might generate from new charges to be repaid to His Majesty’s Treasury – after the costs of enforcement have been repaid? 

“This seems an appealing solution – and is effectively how speeding fines operate already – but are there unexpected considerations that we should be considering? 

“I would encourage everyone with an interest to have your say and ensure your thoughts are taken into account.“


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