Hundreds of motorists wrongly fined

News story
News story

OVER-zealous traffic wardens have been handing out hundreds of parking tickets to Wiganers who may not have done anything wrong.

Statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act show large numbers of residents ticketed in the borough’s areas with parking restrictions had their fines waived on appeal.

A total of 371 penalty charge notices were effectively scrapped by Wigan Council after being dished out on streets in controlled parking zones by wardens in 2013-14.

The figures for 2012-13 were even higher, with 503 PCNs given out in zones waived by the local authority.

In total 655 folk appealed their fines, meaning almost 77 per cent of those given a ticket in a CPZ that year actually didn’t pay. Although some cases may figure twice in the figures as there are formal and informal appeal stages, the data still shows large numbers of Wiganers were ticketed but when they complained they were not thought to have done anything serious enough to warrant a penalty.

Pressure group the Taxpayers’ Alliance today demanded the council crack down on the “heavy-handed policing” of parking. Chief executive Jonathan Isaby said: “The council clearly needs to address the number of PCNs issued in error. Not only does it cause unnecessary stress for hard-pressed motorists but the extra admin ties up taxpayer-funded staff who surely must have something more productive to do. We’ve got to look at improving training, among other things, to bring this figure down.”

There are five CPZs in the borough: three in Swinley and two in Leigh. Anyone who owns a house or uses a business unit there must apply for permits for their own vehicles and those of visitors.

Wardens doled out 2,535 PCNs in the zones in 2013-14 and 1,363 in 2012-13, collecting fines totalling £535,145 and £501,342 in those same years. Incidents in areas with parking restrictions accounted for 13.2 per cent of all Wigan fines in 2013-14 and 7.3 in 2012-13.

Emma Barton, council assistant director for economic development, said: “When considering appeals for penalty charge notices we will always consider compelling reasons or mitigating circumstances as to why the penalty shouldn’t be paid. Every case is considered on its own merits.

“The reasons why we may cancel a PCN are varied and are fully detailed as part of our cancellation guidance which is available to members of the public via our website.

“It is worth noting that a number of large residential parking zones were introduced in 2013 and 2014. When a new parking zone is introduced we may for a short period take a more sympathetic approach on applying PCNs while residents and visitors adapt to the new regime.”