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Watford Borough Council owed £150,000 in unpaid parking fines
Around £150,000 worth of parking fines issued in Watford last year are outstanding or have been written off as enforcement officers could not track down the offending motorists.
In contrast only £14,000 worth of fines are outstanding or written off in Three Rivers from last year and £68,000 in Dacorum, which use the same parking contractor as Watford.
Watford Borough Council officers said they have since switched the bailiff company in a bid to collect on more fines handed out to motorists.
The figures emerged last night as councillors on Watford’s outsourced services scrutiny committee looked into the borough’s 10-year contract with its parking company Vinci.
Although Vinci issues the penalty notice, the collection is handled by the councils themselves.
Politicians on the panel queried the high cost of fines not collected by Watford compared to neighbouring boroughs.
Steve Rackett, Green councillor for Callowland, said: "The write-offs are around 15 per cent and I have done a rough work out and that’s around £100,000 in value. When you compare it with Dacorum, which has a similar number theirs was much smaller, around £50,000.
"It seems quite high compared to our neighbouring boroughs."
Justin Bloomfield, Watford Borough Council’s parking services manager, said unlike neighbouring boroughs Watford was a large retail centre and also had regular football matches with enforced parking.
As a result he said a higher number of fines were handed out to drivers not from the borough who were harder for officers to track down.
He said: "We are dealing with people that often had no intention of paying the penalty charge from the beginning".
Mr Bloomfield added that the council had ended its contract with its previous bailiff company and hired two new ones which would compete and both had more presence in neighbouring London boroughs.
Figures released by the council show 19,806 parking fines were handed to drivers in the town in the 2011-12 financial year, with 3,636 issued in Three Rives and 16,844 in Dacorum.
Fines for the three boroughs are £50 or £70 for worse parking offences. However motorists get a 50 per cent discount if they pay within a fortnight.
The total number of parking fines issued in Watford last year amounted to just over £1,241,000.
Taking the £50 basic fine the figures show at least £181,800 worth of fines were issued in Three Rivers and £842,200 in Dacorum.
Figures from Watford showed last year showed just under £90,000 of fines had been written off last year as the motorists were deemed untraceable.
Just under £60,000 are still unpaid. The council writes off fines if they are not paid within 12 months.
In Three Rivers 74 per cent were paid, 18 per cent cancelled and 8 per cent written off or outstanding, whereas in Dacorum 62 per cent were paid, 30 per cent were cancelled and 8 per cent written off or outstanding.
Mr Bloomfield said all money made from parking was ring-fenced and could only be used to fund and the maintenance and improvement of the service.