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Catch up with the latest press releases from LV=

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The rise of the parking attendant

Press release: 31/08/2012

  • The number of parking attendants has increased by 6% since 2008 while other public services are cut back

  • At the same time, a fifth (17%) of councils have reduced the amount of free parking in their areas

  • In the last 12 months, one in 10 drivers have been caught illegally parked

  • Drivers have paid out £340 million in parking fines in the last 12 months

  • Westminster has the highest number of parking attendants, employing 242 to enforce parking restrictions in its area


'Civil enforcement officers', formerly known as parking attendants, are on the rise as councils clamp down on illegal parking.

According to data obtained by a freedom of information request from LV= car insurance, parking wardens have increased by 6% since 2008 [1] and one in 10 councils (10%) has increased the number of parking attendants on duty by 20% or more. This is despite the fact that Police officer numbers in England and Wales have fallen [2] to their lowest level in nearly a decade.

As a result, more drivers have been caught illegally parked and fined accordingly. In the past 12 months alone, one in 10 (10%) drivers have been hit with fines for parking in the wrong place, costing drivers £340 million - equating to £96 per driver caught [3].

In an average year, parking attendants dish out up to 10 million tickets but this is likely to soar as free parking in many towns is cut back. Nearly a fifth (17%) of councils have extended the number of paid parking zones in their area in the past 12 months and reduced 'free' parking as a result. These councils include the London Borough of Croydon, Norwich City Council, Derby City Council and Hull City Council, among others.

Finding a parking space is set to become even more difficult as the number of cars on the road continues to increase. In the last ten years, the number of cars on the road in England has risen by 15% [4] putting increasing pressure on motorists needing to park their cars in busy areas. Over half (57%) of drivers say that parking in their nearest town and city has become more difficult since 2008 with just a minority of motorists (7%) saying it is now easier.

It would seem there just aren't enough parking spaces for the 36 million drivers in the UK and many have been forced to park illegally. Close to one in five (18%) admit they have resorted to parking illegally in the last year and risked a parking fine as a result.

In an average council area, there are now 16 parking civil enforcement officers employed to enforce parking, traffic and other laws in England and Wales – rising to 51 for those parking in a London borough. Westminster has the highest number on duty with 242 currently employed by the City of Westminster, followed by the London Borough of Islington (135). Outside of London, the City of Edinburgh Council and Brighton and Hove City Council employs the highest number of civil enforcement officers, employing 121 and 74 respectively.

John O'Roarke, Managing Director of LV= car insurance, said: "The lack of free parking is putting increasing pressure on cash-strapped motorists and many are resorting to parking illegally. This problem is being exacerbated as councils increase the number of paid parking zones in their areas and take on more parking attendants to police them. Motorists who are visiting busy areas should plan ahead and consider parking slightly further away to avoid high parking charges. Many cities now offer park & ride schemes, which are a fraction of the cost of inner city parking."

Top 20 areas for parking attendants

Rank

Area

Current number
of Parking
attendants (2012)

Parking Zones
increased in past
12 months?

1

City of Westminster

242

N

2

London Borough of Islington

135

N

3

City of Edinburgh

121

Y

4

London Borough of Lambeth

99

N

5

Ealing Council

78*

Y

6

Brighton and Hove City Council

74

Y

7

London Borough of Wandsworth

71**

Y

8

Bristol City Council

68

N

9

London Borough of Tower Hamlets

60

N

10=

Sheffield City Council

58

Y

10=

London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham

58

N

12

Haringey Council

52

Y

13=

London Borough of Brent

42

N

13=

Cardiff Council

42

Zones not
increased but
streets added

15=

London Borough of Barnet

40

N

15=

London Borough of Redbridge

40

Y

17

Oxfordshire County Council

38*

N

18=

Plymouth City Council

36

N

18=

London Borough of Waltham Forest

36

Y

18=

Portsmouth City Council

36

Y

*Contracted by NSL
**Figures given are for Mon-Fri



Notes

  1. According to councils, there were 3,630 parking attendants employed in 2008 and there are currently 3,841 employed in 2012 - a 5.8% rise.

  2. According to figures from the Home Office www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/police-research/hosb0912/hosb0912?view=Binary (July 2012)

  3. Figure based on 143 respondents out of a nationally representative sample of 2,012. 143 is 7% of respondents which, multiplied by the UK adult population of 49,969,000 (ONS, 2010) equates to 3,551,475. The mean average parking fine among respondents was £96 which, multiplied by 3,551,475, equates to £340,763,993

  4. Source: The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Industry Facts 2012

LV= car insurance issued Freedom of Information requests to 371 UK city, district, borough and county councils. Of these 223 responded with at least one piece of data. 148 are either yet to respond, said that they didn't keep the data, or that they had no parking schemes in their area. The FOI request asked: Has your council increased the number of parking zones in the past 12 months? How many parking enforcement officers (i.e. parking attendants) does your council employ this year (2012) and how many did your council employ in 2011 and 2008. Please provide a number for each year specified.

Additional research conducted among 1,583 drivers aged 18+ was conducted in August 2012 by Opinium. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all drivers.


About LV=

LV= employs 5,500 people and serves over five million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.