Parking tickets could rise to £120, as councils in England and Wales lobby the government for the right to increase the amount they charge in fees.
A BBC investigation has revealed some local authorities want to bring their fines in line with London, where the highest levy for non-payment offences is £120. Penalties outside the capital can only reach a maximum of £70.
While car parking charges are controlled by individual councils, outside London the amount they can charge in penalties for drivers who break the rules is set by government.
In towns outside London parking charges have risen but fines have been static for nearly a decade.
The British Parking Association (BPA) has backed the calls, and claimed there needs to be a greater difference between the amount it costs to park a car all day and the total amount a motorist can be fined. The Association says current fines are not enough of a deterrent.
Transport Minister Norman Baker said: “I think motorists will worry that this is perhaps a covert attempt to raise money from them unfairly. That’s not the Department for Transport’s objective in any shape or form.”
It has not been revealed which councils have applied for the increase in penalty charges.
Tony Travers from the London School of Economics told the BBC how councils have been encouraged by the government and the audit commission to push up their charges. “They can’t raise income from parking precisely in order to subsidise other services,” he said. “But they are allowed to put up their charges if for example traffic levels are increasing.
“They will undoubtedly make decisions that maximise revenue at a time when other sources of income are falling away.
“The idea of councils looking for completely new ways of delivering services and of charging for them hasn’t gone away because of course what these councils have to do is to deliver central government’s cuts locally and they’re trying to minimise the consequences of doing that.”
Lobbyist Gavin Devine echoed this on his Twitter account. “Furore over council parking fines story is ridiculous,” he said. “What exactly do people think will happen when council budgets are cut?”
Law PhD researcher MattB_UK wrote on Twitter: “I hope the government reject council plans to raise parking fines. It shouldn’t be used for revenue regeneration”.
One reader wrote on the BBC’s Have Your Say page: “The motorist shouldn’t have to pay any fee to park on the road we pay ROAD FUND LICENCE the motorist PAYS for the roads.”
Another wrote: “Moneymaking – pure and simple”.
Other readers took a very different view: “This won’t affect you if you parking legally!” said one. “But the fine at the moment is so low that is does not deter people. If you break the law you should pay, and you can’t complain that the fine is too much.”