Overseas drivers have had thousands of pounds worth of parking fines written off by Scarborough Council, as the authority admits a loophole has left it powerless to act.
The cash-strapped council admits there is nothing it can do to force visiting drivers from abroad to pay up after they’ve had a ticket slapped on their vehicles.
Three-quarters of all parking fines dished out to foreign-registered vehicles last year were written off, running into thousands of pounds.
There are fears that unless the system is changed, it could create a “free for all” on Scarborough’s streets – with overseas motorists parking illegally without fear of repercussion. “It is quite amazing that we all don’t come under the same rules,” said Cllr Janet Jefferson, who is also the Chairman for Scarborough’s Chamber of Trade.
Annually, millions of tourists from abroad visit Europe on holiday.
And the Castle ward councillor is concerned that unless changes are made, overseas drivers could abuse the system, clogging up the streets during the busy summer season where parking spaces are often sparse.
And she added: “We should all be made to pay, no matter where you’re from.
“I cant think in this day and age where people have things like credit cards that they can’t be traced and made to pay.
“If someone has committed something like that then they should face the consequences, wherever they are.”
Typically, drivers handed a ticket by parking wardens have a short window in which they can pay a reduced fine, before the fine is increased and the DVLA is contacted in order to take further action.
But Scarborough Council say that if a ticket placed on a foreign car isn’t paid up after four weeks, once it is out of the DVLA’s jurisdiction, the only way that they can chase the fine up is through the equivalent agency in the drivers country.
And the council admit that dealing with some of these agencies could be a minefield –and in some countries a similar agency to the DVLA simply may not exist.
A spokesperson for Scarborough Council’s parking team said: “In the case of penalty charge notices issued to UK registered vehicles that remain unpaid after 28 days, we apply to the DVLA for the registered keeper details to be able to take further action.
“Obviously we can’t do this for vehicles from other countries as the DVLA only operates in the UK.”
Figures disclosed by the council under the Freedom of Information Act show that in 2012, 124 penalty charge notices were issued in Scarborough to motorists driving a car registered outside of the UK.
Of these, 76 per cent were written off by the council after the authority opted not to pursue the tickets further.