167. Should a driver fail to pay a parking penalty,
local authorities may eventually use bailiffs to pursue the outstanding
168. When a driver fails to pay a penalty charge
within the time allowed, the authority can serve on the motorist
a Charge Certificate which increases the penalty charge by 50
per cent. Should the driver fail to pay this increased charge
within fourteen days of it being served, the authority can register
the Charge Certificate with the national Traffic Enforcement Centre.
169. Should the motorist continue to resist paying
and fail to contest the matter, the local authority may take further
enforcement action by requesting a warrant. Once the warrant has
been authorised by the Traffic Enforcement Centre, the authority
will employ certificated bailiffs to execute that warrant. The
bailiff is empowered to seize and sell goods belonging to the
driver to the value of the outstanding amount, plus the cost of
executing the warrant.
170. We received evidence from the London Motorists
Action Group expressing concern about the involvement of bailiffs
in decriminalised parking enforcement.
The group cited a case of a debt collection company that had demanded
£1060 for non-payment of two Penalty Charge Notices.
The Group claims that it is common for bailiffs working on behalf
of local authorities to demand such extortionate charges for parking
penalties. The AA Motoring Trust stated that "Local councils
must bear responsibility for action taken in their name and bailiff
action should have to be authorised by a senior officer of the
The reputation of the council will be affected by the performance
of bailiffs working on their behalf.
171. Local authorities need an effective means
for collecting unpaid penalty charges from drivers. Baliffs may
be appropriate in a small number of cases. The use of bailiffs
must be carefully regulated by the local authority however. Their
use in collecting unpaid fines can easily undermine further public
confidence in decriminalised parking enforcement. Local authorities
must take the greatest care to ensure they use only reputable
bailiffs. Bailiff's charges and operational practices must be
transparent and subject to prior approval and close monitoring
as part of any contractual agreement. These charges must be as
widely publicised as possible and freely available to the public.