Councils to get new powers to issue fines for traffic offences

Local authorities will be able to fine drivers who commit moving traffic contraventions under legislation being drawn up

Local councils are set to be given powers allowing them to fine motorists who commit minor traffic offences, under new legislation being drawn up by the Department for Transport (DfT). The move has been criticised for having the potential to turn drivers into a “lucrative cash stream.”

Although authorities in London and Cardiff can already issue fines for moving traffic contraventions, in most areas these are dealt with by the police. This is set to change, though, as the DfT has confirmed it’s planning to give councils widespread power to issue fines of around £70 for offences such as stopping in a yellow box junction, driving in a cycle lane or making an illegal turn.

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Speaking in the House of Commons, Transport Minister Rachel Maclean confirmed the increased powers, saying that changes being made to the Traffic Management Act 2004 “will take several months to bring into force, after which those local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers can apply for a designation order for moving traffic enforcement.”

She added: “Statutory guidance is being developed for local authorities on how to use the powers, including publicising their introduction in advance, to ensure that enforcement is carried out fairly.”

The Transport Committee previously recommended such measures be taken, as police no longer have the resources to widely and effectively enforce moving traffic contraventions.

Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, commented: “While it makes sense for all local authorities to have the power to enforce problematic hotspots, there is a risk that some councils might use this as a lucrative revenue raising tool.”

Lyes said the onus should be on councils to ensure road layouts are not confusing, so that unsuspecting drivers are not “snared”. He pointed out that high numbers of fines in one location may indicate something is wrong.

He added: “We also feel that in the first instance warning letters should be issued to drivers rather than a fine to reduce the chances of councils using this as a lucrative cash stream.”

Do you like the idea of local councils policing traffic offences in their areas? Let us know in the comments…

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