Foreign car owners cost £86,000 in unpaid fines

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A LOOPHOLE over foreign registered vehicles has left the city council tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket.

A LOOPHOLE over foreign registered vehicles has left the city council tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket.Almost 1,500 parking tickets issued to drivers in foreign vehicles since 2003 are still unpaid, with countless written off because the authorities cannot track down those responsible.

In fact, just 312 tickets issued in the city to foreign vehicles have been paid – out of 1,886.

At 60 a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN), the council has lost out on 86,160.

Today, The Evening Telegraph can reveal that while about 17 per cent of tickets issued to non-UK registered vehicles have been paid, 63 per cent of those issued to UK registered vehicles have been paid for the same period.

Parking services manager at Peterborough City Council Rob Saunders said: "These figures reflect the frustration we feel about this issue, which is by no means unique to Peterborough.

"The DVLA keeps information on UK registered vehicles and requires non-UK registered vehicles to be registered within six months of arrival.

"However, this is not happening with all vehicles, which results in it being impossible to trace the driver.

"The lack of a European wide DVLA style registration system is something the British Government is pushing for, but until that is in place, councils, police and other such organisations will suffer similar problems."

That frustration was echoed by the police after countless speeding fines have gone unpaid because of troubles tracking down those responsible.

A police spokeswoman said: "It is always more difficult to trace vehicles registered abroad than it is British registered vehicles, but we will always work hard with other agencies on this matter.

"Although it is harder to trace foreign registered vehicles in relation to speeding offences detected by static cameras, we do have tactics in place to enable us to trace the registered keeper, such as the use of our Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology."

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: "I think that it's a very serious concern because it discriminates against local

people who, when they park incorrectly, are forced to pay a parking fine, whereas people who aren't from Peterborough get away scot-free.

"I will be writing to the Department of Transport asking how it plans to rectify this unfairness and make sure that everybody is treated the same."

It is a problem across the country and has led to a project called Sparks being launched to lobby the European Union to create

a Europe-wide database.

Programme manager Bill Blakemore said: "At the moment this is a major problem.

"It's very difficult to get the information about who owns the foreign registered vehicle.

"Even if you can trace the owner, there is no legal framework to force people to pay if they choose to ignore it."

Research commissioned by the project revealed that three million foreign registered vehicles enter the UK each year.

FACTFILE:

All Penalty Charge Notices issued to non-UK registered vehicles between September 22, 2003 and January 22, 2008: 1,886.

Paid cases for this period: 312.

Cases written off: 1,436.

Live cases: 138.