Parking fines: Galway City Council accused of focusing on raising revenue

Cosáin, a local cycling and pedestrian safety group, is claiming Galway City Council’s parking enforcement is mostly concerned with raising revenue rather than punishing or deterring illegal and obstructive parking.

The group’s spokesperson, Simon Comer, levelled the charge after analysing the past two years of Fixed Charge Penalty Notices (FCPN) issued by community wardens.

Uinsinn Finn, senior engineer, told the latest Joint Policing Committee meeting that there had been an increase in the number of parking fines issued by the City Council last year.

Mr Finn indicated to the meeting that the increase in fines issued may be related to the introduction of parking charges on Sundays at Council car parks, and the subsequent extra enforcement on the seventh day of every week.

However, Cosáin has supplied figures to the Galway City Tribune showing a substantial number of the fines issued relate to revenue-raising offences, as opposed to parking in locations where it is illegal to park.

Reports into the number of tickets issued by offence were released to Cosáin following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

They show that the total number of parking tickets issued by the City Council increased by 9% in 2017 compared with the previous year.

In 2016, some 14,123 FCPN were issued. That increased by around 1,300 to 15,429 in 2017.

Cosáin has pointed out that a considerable chunk of the tickets are not related to illegal parking that is causing an obstruction, and are “revenue-raising offences”.

Some 40% of all tickets issued by the City Council last year were for two offences that Cosáin says are mainly concerned with raising money to boost the local authority’s coffers.

A total of 2,603 tickets were issued for the offence of “parking a vehicle in a space in which a parking is subject to the payment of fees without displaying a valid parking disc”. A further 3,579 tickets were issued for “failing to display a current tax disc”.

For comparison, some 1,597 tickets were issued last year for “parking a vehicle on double yellow lines”; and 847 were issued for “parking a vehicle wholly or partly on a footpath”.

Mr Comer said: “A vehicle may be in a legal parking space but the Motor Tax disc may be invalid. The Council’s stats typically show that a substantial proportion of ‘parking’ fines are not for parking in illegal locations but for Motor Tax offences or for having invalid parking discs where a fee has to be paid. This could include, for example, parking in one of the City Council’s Pay & Display areas but having an expired disc.

“In other words, much of the Council’s ‘parking’ control effort is aimed primarily at revenue collection, through fines and fees. This is why the Council rarely, if ever, tries to control parking chaos around schools, keep the bike lanes clear or free the footpaths in residential areas. Their priorities lie elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, at the JPC meeting, Superintendent Marie Skehill in a written response to City Councillor Frank Fahy (FG) said Gardaí had issued a total of 229 Fixed Charge Notices during January and February of this year.

The Garda FCPN are separate and in addition to the Council’s figures.