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Release: Dorset PCC and Council Leaders calls for tough parking fines to tackle summer illegal parking

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), David Sidwick and both Spencer Flower and Philip Broadhead have penned a letter to Secretary of State, MP Mark Harper calling for tougher sanctions to tackle the increasing issue of illegal parking in Dorset through the summer months.

Currently, parking fines are limited to no more than £100, with local authorities setting the fine amount based on statutory guidance from the Government. The letter signed by Mr Sidwick along with the Leaders of Dorset and BCP Councils asks for a commitment to increasing the limit to a base figure of at least £150 (with a discount to £100 if paid early) to ensure that the fines are effective in acting as a deterrent to illegal parking.

The letter states that current fines, which vary from £50 to £70 which is halved if paid within 14 days, are simply too low to deter antisocial parking and keep road traffic flowing freely.

The issue of problem parking was exacerbated during the pandemic and at the height of the first lockdown when the beaches were open but not the restaurants and supporting hospitality infrastructure. Dorset found itself facing antisocial parking on a new and extreme level, which caused severe congestion and interfered with the normal running of the seaside and tourist resorts.

Since then, every time there is a spell of pleasant weather Dorset’s resorts are overcrowded with antisocial parking which is simply not deterred by the low level of penalty charge that is currently in place.  In practice, many people now decide to take the penalty of a fine for parking on a double yellow line because a £35 fine is not much more than the cost to park for the day in a regulated car park and the locations are often more convenient for the beach or beauty spot.  The PCC along with the councils has asked for change for two years, to increase the base level of fine to a more significant level but no action appears to have been taken on this at all.

The call for action comes as Dorset prepares for yet another busy summer period as residents and tourists head to beauty spots to make the most of pleasant weather.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, David Sidwick Said: “Once again, we find ourselves entering a summer period when Dorset’s population triples and many visit our beaches and beauty spots. We’ve seen in past years that the current fines are not enough to deter the anti-social and illegal parking that increases congestion and, in some cases, poses a risk to people’s lives. I will continue to lobby government for tougher consequences for such irresponsible and selfish behaviour.”

In June last year, illegal parking became such a problem across the water in Studland that it interfered with Firefighters' ability to deal with the large heath fire and Dorset Police were called to help deal with the vehicles.

BCP Council Leader, Cllr Philip Broadhead said: “As one of the premier tourist destinations in the UK, each summer we welcome thousands of visitors to our beaches and open spaces. We’ve ample parking to accommodate them, but too many decide to ignore good practice and clog our up roads with illegal parking on double yellow lines.”

“Our seasonal response efforts over the last few years has made a real impact on this, but we remain hampered by the inadequacy of the government mandated limit on fines for these offences. A change in this legislation to reflect the flexibility that London has would make a critical difference to ensuring that we can enforce considerate parking.”

The issue affects many of Dorset’s tourist attractions particularly the numerous seaside resorts. 

Dorset Council Leader, Cllr Spencer Flower said: “On behalf of Dorset Council, I fully support this call for tougher parking fines. Illegal parking at Dorset beauty spots causes major risk to public safety, as well as inconvenience and frustration for local residents. I implore the Secretary of State to heed our call.”

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