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Driver clocks up a UK record in unpaid parking fines in Tower Hamlets

PUBLISHED: 12:33 04 June 2019

The driver owes the council £32,000. Picture: Mike Brooke

The driver owes the council £32,000. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

A van driver was able to rack up a five-figure sum in unpaid parking fines — believed to be a UK record — because the vehicle was "too big" to tow away.

Conservative councillor Peter Golds has branded the debt 'a disgrace'. Picture: Mike BrookeConservative councillor Peter Golds has branded the debt 'a disgrace'. Picture: Mike Brooke

The driver owes £32,000 after ignoring 246 fixed penalty notices issued in streets around Tower Hamlets since July 2017.

A council spokesman said the local authority was unable to move the panel van — a white VW transporter with turbocharged direct injection — for almost two years because it was "too large for removal trucks".

Parking tickets in the borough carry a £130 fine, with a 50 per cent discount if paid within two weeks.

Last year, Tower Hamlets issued 123,079 penalty charge notices to drivers — one of the highest figures in the country.

The council admitted it had already written off 77 of the van's oldest fines — worth about £10,000 — because they have been unable to track the driver down.

A spokesman said it had no choice but to cancel the tickets because the vehicle has no tax, MOT or insurance and was registered with the DVLA under a fake name.

Opposition councillors branded the decision "a disgrace".

Conservative Peter Golds said: "Honest people who pay their fines are being persecuted, while people like this are able to act with impunity. It's disgraceful."

The van was spotted parked illegally again last week and, after drafting in specialist equipment, officers took it to the car pound.

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However, the driver will only have to pay the one most recent parking ticket — plus the £200 tow fee and £40 for every day the van has been in the pound — to get it released.

A council spokesman said: "This vehicle has a history of being parked illegally across the borough, causing significant inconvenience to our residents.

"Last week as part of a proactive operation targeting persistent evaders, council enforcement officers once again found it parked illegally.

"As the owner has repeatedly failed to pay penalty charge notices for past offences, the vehicle was immediately removed and taken to the car pound using a specially commissioned tow truck.

"It will be held securely for 35 days or until the owner is able to provide the paperwork to prove the vehicle belongs to them. If it is not claimed within the time, it will be destroyed."

The previous biggest total parking fine issued to a single person was £18,500, for a driver in Dundee in 2017.

Carly Mackie ignored some 200 penalties from Vehicle Control Services.

After the firm took her to court she was ordered to pay £24,500 in fines and charges.

A DVLA spokesman said implementing and collecting parking fines was the responsibility of the local authority.

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