MOTORISTS are being slugged with £2,500 in parking fines every day in Swindon.

Figures revealed to the Adver under Freedom of Information laws show that the council issued more than 41,000 parking fines in the 16 months to May 8.

That's more than 85 fines a day for motorists parking on double lines, failing to pay and display and staying illegally in residents' zones.

In the first four months of this year alone, council parking inspectors have slapped 11,649 motorists with tickets.

That poured £455,965 in to council's parking coffers.

Since 2000, the council has pocketed more than £4.1m in parking fines.

Among the fine hotspots between January 1, 2005, and May 8, 2006, are Granville Street, where motorists paid 3,311 fines worth £143,555 and Princes Street Car Park with 1,998 worth £86,605.

Canny motorists also avoid parking near the council offices in Euclid Street, where 266 fines raised £13,615 and the parking attendant headquarters in Sanford Street where 599 fines raised £23,610.

Among the most lucrative patches was the small area forming a "golden triangle" of Prospect Place, Prospect Hill and the Prospect Place car park, where inspectors raised £73,805 with 1,715 tickets.

The biggest offence was failing to show a valid ticket in a pay and display car park, which earned 10,983 motorists a fine.

Another 704 were fined for parking in a disabled bay without a badge.

Last year, fines raised £813,939.

The big jump came when the council took over all parking fines.

In the last year it shared the responsib-ility with the police, £561,454 was raised.

In its first full year of fining, 2004, the council's take had rocketed to £859,335.

Cabinet member for planning, highways and transport Coun Peter Greenhalgh, said the council had a responsibility to make sure motorists were following the parking rules.

"Parking enforcement is never popular, but the alternative is a free-for-all that would result in complete traffic chaos.

"There is no excuse in Swindon for illegal parking.We are not interested in booking as many people as possible only those who deserve it.

"Our parking enforcement is fair, and we owe it to the vast majority of people who pay honestly for their parking space, or who park legally on the street, to penalise those who don't.

"There is plenty of car parking capacity.

"We have 34 parking attendants and what we collect in fines is absolutely typical for a town of Swindon's size.

"The fines revenue is ploughed back into the parking service.

"Anyone who receives a parking ticket has plenty of opportunities to challenge the decision at various stages, and there is a free independent appeals process that anyone who feels they have been unfairly treated can use.

"One in four of all the tickets we issue are ultimately cancelled, in the vast majority of cases because we accept the explanation given by the driver.

"The fines are set by law, and we halve the £60 penalty for anyone who pays within 14 days.

"When a parking ticket is issued, a photograph of the vehicle and its position is always taken, and this can be accessed on the council's website using the code number on the ticket."

We don't have anywhere else to go say residents

NOT all residents are convinced by the council's argument.

Prospect Hill resident Toby Robson said that residents had no choice but park illegally because of the shortage of spaces.

He said the £4.1m raised in fines was "shocking".

He also questioned the council's assertion that all the fines money go back in to the parking system.

"How does that go back in to parking?" Mr Robson, pictured right with his girlfriend Anna Boyd, asked.

"Surely that more than pays for the wages of wardens. Where that's money going?

"They should subsidise some of us to park in public car parks.

"Residents are copping it on the chin because they have nowhere else to go.

"The council has allowed all sorts of developments without parking."

Deacon Street resident Karl Cook, who has launched a petition to get more residents' parking, said the number of fines showed people had no option but to park illegally.

Mr Cook said the council was "punishing" residents with fines after failing to give them anywhere to park legally.

"They are willing to take your money for a parking permit but they do nothing about residential parking," Mr Cook said.

"They seem to be against the residents and creating revenue for the council."

Mr Cook said he had received one of the 222 fines issued in Deacon Street.

"One of those is definitely one of mine," Mr Cook said.

"Deacon Street is residential but the bottom half of the street is given over to a bus route.

"They need to give the parking back to residents."

Parking services performance manager Nick Garrett said that Swindon's parking inspectors did not receive incentives for issuing more tickets. Mr Garrett added: "Decriminalised parking enforcement has proved a great success with positive feedback from people like courier drivers and other drivers who furnish shops for example, who say the roads are clearer, which improves delivery times.

"In addition, prior to the system being introduced, there were many bus routes that had pinch points' because of inappropriate parking. These have largely been eliminated, which in turn improves the bus services."

All in a day's work for the wardens

ON May 8, the parking wardens ticketed 103 cars in Swindon.

A log of all their targets shows the breakdown of tickets, with several car parks being checked seven tickets in the Princes Street, six in King Street, 11 in Granville Street, and seven at the Great Western Hospital.

Drivers in the car parks at the college, Britannia Place and Bath Road were also ticketed, as were those in several residential streets.

Bradford Road, Brunswick Street, Durham Street, Hythe Road, and Kent Road were visited by attendants, as was Lorne Street and Lethbridge Road.

The log also shows that Sanford Street, Whitehead Street, Union Street and Regent Circus all saw drivers penalised for their illegal parking that day.

The breakdown of penalties roughly follows the pattern in the last 18 months.

Between January 1 last year and May 8 this year, parking inspectors have dished out 10,983 tickets for parking in a pay and display space without a valid ticket; 8,940 for parking in a restricted street during prescribed hours; 5,037 parking in a residents' parking space without clearly displaying a valid residents' parking permit; 2,916 for parking in a free space longer than permitted; 1,088 for parking without clearly displaying a valid pay and display ticket; and 941 for parking or unloading in a street where loading and unloading restrictions were in force.

Top of the parking hotspots

SWINDON motorists handed over £1.7m for 41,288 fines between January 1 last year and May 8 this year.

Among the parking fine hotspots were:

  • Granville Street 3,311 car parks costing £143,555
  • Princes Street Car Park 1,998 fines worth £86,605
  • Great Western Hospital car park 1,645 fines worth £71,960
  • College Car Park 1,575 fines worth £67,365
  • Prospect Place Car Park 1,554 fines worth £66,250
  • Parade Car Park 1,056 fines worth £44,825
  • King Street Car Park 1,080 fines worth £45,795
  • Sanford Street 599 fines worth £23,610
  • Euclid Street 266 fines worth £13,615
  • Avenue Road 193 fines costing £8,150
  • Prospect Place 94 fines worth £3,890
  • Prospect Hill 67 fines worth £3,665