FOLLOWING criticism that local councils use parking enforcement as a “cash cow”, the Government has hinted that parking fines could be reduced and grace periods introduced before vehicles are ticketed.The Department for Transport is considering legal options to abolish the minimum rates for parking penalty charges to allow local authorities to lower fines for minor parking violations.

It also wants local authorities to publish their parking accounts in a bid to create more transparency around fines.

The department has formally responded to a Commons Transport Select Committee report published last year which found “a deep rooted perception that local authorities view parking enforcement as a cash cow”.

It also said it was “hard to justify parking fines that are substantially more than the fines for more serious offences like speeding”.

In a move likely to please critics of the current system, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin froze parking penalty charges in December for the remainder of the current Parliament.

He also published a public consultation on parking issues, including whether five minute grace periods, which some councils already operate voluntarily, should be made a statuary requirement. The consultation is also seeking views on whether to end the use of cameras for on-street parking enforcement.

Last year the Local Government Association calculated that councils made a £411m surplus from both on and off street parking in 2011-12, while the RAC Foundation said the figure was £565m.

The consultation will end on February 14.

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