Town is named as hot spot for parking fines

HITCHIN has been revealed as the parking fine capital of Comet country. In 2007 alone, 7,876 penalty charge notices were issued to drivers parking illegally in the town, the equivalent of one for every five residents. The figures, revealed last week by No

HITCHIN has been revealed as the parking fine capital of Comet country.

In 2007 alone, 7,876 penalty charge notices were issued to drivers parking illegally in the town, the equivalent of one for every five residents.

The figures, revealed last week by North Hertfordshire District Council, show that those issued in Hitchin made up 57 per cent of all fines issued in North Herts and were a combination of on-street, off-street and controlled parking zone fines.

Between them, drivers in Letchworth GC, Baldock, Royston and rural areas received just 5,830.

The figure for Hitchin is also more than the 5,759 issued in total to car owners in Stevenage during the same 12-month period.

For Mid Beds 1,202 fines were issued, with Biggleswade (465) the town with the most hit drivers.

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The figures for North Herts were revealed in the same council report which set out changes to be made as part of the Traffic Management Act 2004, which comes into place on Monday.

The changes include a two-tier level of charges, a higher one of £70 and a lower one of £50.

And although the report stated that council officers recently visited Hitchin on a Tuesday and surveyed a variety of streets and identified little illegal parking taking place, the figures reveal that more work needs to be done.

Councillor Judi Billing, the chairman of the Hitchin area committee, agreed, and said: "It is clear that some of the parking problems in the town have yet to be properly and finally resolved in what is a new scheme for the council to administer.

"We should be thankful that so many people wish to visit the town centre, and look for ways to encourage responsible parking and clarity of information.

"I continue to despair that reductions in local bus services do nothing to encourage visitors to Hitchin to leave their cars at home."

Speaking about Stevenage's notices, Marc Whifield, the borough council's head of environmental services, said: "In 2007 we issued 5,759 penalty charge notices on-street. We don't carry out off-street enforcement and we don't have any controlled parking zones in Stevenage.

"I would like to make it clear that we don't make a profit from parking enforcement.

"All of the money raised goes towards paying for the enforcement, to protect drivers, cyclists and pedestrians and to try and stop illegal parking.

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