The Lancashire Evening Post, Saturday, 3rd December 2005
We won't pay
A THIRD of parking tickets issued to motorists in Preston this year have not been paid.

Figures revealed to the Evening Post show 30,282 tickets were issued in 2005 but only 19,554 have been settled.

The fines that have been paid equate to a revenue of 711,150 for Preston Council, who took over the job of issuing tickets from the police a year ago. Across Lancashire, revenue made by councils from parking tickets topped 1m.

But today businesses said parking wardens were NOT easing traffic flow. Julia Horn, of the Preston District Chamber of Trade, said: "There is a parking problem in Preston and in other areas of the county businesses have made that point.

"But I don't think more wardens are providing the answer. What we need is better public transport and more park and ride schemes." The figures released to the Evening Post show that 4,502 more than one-in-10 of the parking tickets issued in Preston this year were cancelled. And there are currently 6,213 parking tickets, issued in Preston this year, which remain unpaid.

Meanwhile, the places in Preston where you are most likely to get a ticket have also been revealed. More than 2,000 tickets were slapped on cars on Winckley Square this year. Cars parked on the north of the square, near to the city centre, were hit with 1,049 tickets.

And on the east of the square, where shoppers often pay and display, 1,025 tickets were issued. On the south of the square, in bays mainly used by people visiting businesses, 456 tickets were issued.

Away from Winckley Square other hotspots for tickets include Avenham Street, where 670 tickets were issued; Birley Street where 657 tickets were issued; and Fox Street where wardens issued 570 tickets during this year. But people working on Winckley Square said traffic flow has not improved as a result of the high-ticket count.

Businessman Simon Turner, who is managing director of design and public relations firm Freshfield's on Winckley Square, said: "The traffic wardens have adopted an over-aggressive approach.

"We have had numerous clients and visitors to the office receive parking tickets for being literally seconds over their allotted time. Some clients have even received a stern telling off from wardens."

Another businessman, who works on the square, but asked not to be named, said: "There are so many wardens on the square every day and they just seem to blitz everyone and get every car. But I can't see how all this helps Preston in the long term it puts people off coming to one of the city's best spots."

However, Tim Cowen, spokesman for NCP, the contractor employed by Parkwise to carry out the job of parking enforcement, said Winckley Square was seeing the benefits of parking wardens.

He said: "Winckley Square has been problematic for road users for years because of unlawful parking it is good to see that drivers are now making more effort to park lawfully."

Mr Cowen said Parkwise were releasing today's figures to highlight where problems with congestion remain. He added: "You can see that there are major problems with congestion in some of these streets these are the areas most blighted by the small minority of motorists who park illegally and cause obstructions.

"All of this is bad news for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users, not to mention the businesses and traders who rely on customers and suppliers being able to get to them."

A spokesman for Parkwise said: "We're pleased that motorists are getting the message and traffic flows are improving at Winckley Square. New signs have also been put up to help remind motorists of the parking rules in place at the square."

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© The Lancashire Evening Post, December 2005