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Parking permit costs could fall following court judgment

View profile for Kate Sweeney
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 I read in the Telegraph recently how Councils across the country could be forced to cut the cost of residents’ parking permits following a landmark judgment in the High Court. Town halls had been previously raising funds from motorists parking outside their own homes to subsidise the rest of its transport budget, however this is no longer to be allowed.

The ruling by Mrs Justice Lang was welcomed by motorists groups after it was held that Barnet Council in north London had acted illegally by increasing the cost of residents’ and visitors parking permits to plug a finance gap.

Motoring groups predicted the High Court ruling could open the flood gates to other legal challenges in the coming months. It is suggested in the latest official figures for councils in England and Wales that £500 million plus a year profit is generated from parking fees and fines.

It was this profit margin which triggered the challenge by David Attfield, 46, a solicitor and father of two. He was shocked by the local council’s decision to raise the cost of an annual permit from £40 to £100 in 2011 while the cost of a visitor’s permit was quadrupled from £1 to £4.

"Simply holding a summer BBQ or a children's party could cost £40 in parking charges. An elderly person enjoying regular visits from a relative could face an annual cost of £800,” Mr Attfield said following the victory.

While local authorities are allowed to use any surplus they happen to make from parking to boost their transport budgets, the court ruled they cannot deliberately set the cost of permits to make a profit which is what Barnet fell foul of.

I am pleased that Mr Attfield took a stand on this issue. It seems that with many parking related taxations, the solitary lay motorist is often meant to feel that they have no clear prospects of challenging a body such as the council without incurring the stress and anxiety of attending a court hearing.

By Barry Sutton, personal injury team