Cardiff Council has netted £2.4M in spot-fines from drivers photographed committing moving traffic offences in just 12 months.
Stopping in yellow boxes, driving in bus lanes or the wrong way down one-streets has been a bumper fund raiser for the Welsh capital and its success may now be duplicated in other Welsh cities and towns as legislation is rolled out.
The enforcement of moving traffic offences such as stopping on a yellow box junction, making an illegal turn or driving down a ‘no entry’ road raked in a staggering £58.2m in 2018/19 for authorities – 25% (£11.5m) more than in 2016/17 (£46.7m), according to data seen by the RAC.
A freedom of information request made by the RAC to all local authorities that currently have the power to enforce these offences in England and Wales – the London boroughs and Cardiff Council – found revenue from issuing penalty charge notices (PCNs) to drivers increased by 25% between the two financial years.
The Department for Transport confirmed on 27 July 2020 that it plans to extend these enforcement powers to all local authorities in England and Wales. Currently, local authorities outside of London and Cardiff only have powers to enforce bus lane contraventions.
Interestingly, the percentage increase in the number of PCNs issued was greater than the revenue increase. In 2016/17 councils issued 752,871 PCNs, rising to 1,007,405 in 2018/19 which equates to a 34% rise.
Yellow box junctions are by far the most lucrative, bringing in revenue of £31.4m in 2018/19 compared to £22.3m for ‘no turn’ offences and £4.4m for ‘no entry’ contraventions.
Looking at Cardiff alone, nearly four times as many penalty charge notices (PCNs) were issued in 2018/19 compared to 2016/17 (74,142 compared to 19,080) translating to a £1.8m hike in revenue (£593,160 to £2.4m – 313%).
The most profitable offences for Cardiff are ‘no turns’ yielding £1.4m in contrast to £826,424 for yellow box junctions and £182,782 for ‘no entry’ offences.
Russell George MS – the Shadow Minister for Economy, Business, and Infrastructure – said drivers must not be seen as “cash cows”.
According to the report – based on a FoI request by the RAC – penalty charge notices for motorists in Cardiff rose by nearly 300 per cent (19,080 to 74,142) from 2018-19 compared with 2016-17.
Mr George – whose portfolio includes transport – went on, “Look, we all accept that for health and green issues, we should be encouraging more motorists to switch from cars to public transport or bicycles. However, drivers should be nudged, not fined, into making these changes.
“The feeling of many drivers I’ve spoken with is that the ever-increasing use of cameras to spot and record infringements is less about making the roads safer or greener, but more about using them as revenue generators. Motorists shouldn’t be seen as cash cows.”
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said that it’s plain for all to see that London boroughs, TfL and Cardiff are generating phenomenal sums of money from the enforcement of moving traffic offences.
“The vast majority of drivers we’ve surveyed agree that those who stop on yellow boxes, make illegal turns or go through ‘no entry’ signs need to be penalised, but when it comes to extending powers to other councils many are concerned, with 68% thinking local authorities will rush to install cameras to generate additional revenue. Four in 10 drivers (39%) also believe that road layouts and signage will be made deliberately confusing to increase the number of PCNs issued. Clearly, the priority for enforcement should be to improve road safety and reduce congestion.
“The Department for Transport has decided to extend enforcement powers to other local authorities, however we believe guidance should be issued setting out where enforcement should be targeted and the types of signs that must be used to make drivers aware that enforcement cameras are operating, and for what type of moving traffic offence.
“It should also make clear the circumstances in which a PCN can be appealed and where mitigating circumstances may apply such as stopping in a yellow box to allow an emergency services vehicle to go by.
“We welcome proposals that first offenders are sent a warning letter before subsequent penalties apply. This is particularly important where changes are made to urban road layouts. What we do not want is this being seen by cash-strapped local authorities as a way to generate revenue.
“In addition, we would urge local authorities to publish annual reports of moving traffic offence receipts by type and by junction. We would also encourage them to monitor hot spots where an unusually high proportion of PCNs are issued as this is more than likely a clear indication of a problem with signage or road layout.”