By Mark Stillman
Drivers could face reduced parking fines under new government plans.
No matter how much other motoring costs may go up this year, ministers want to see lower parking fines introduced.
This follows criticism that local authorities use parking enforcement as a "cash cow".
The government also wants to see longer grace periods introduced as well as more transparency.
Minor parking violation fines may be reduced
The Department for Transport (DfT) is considering legal alternatives to scrap the minimum rates for parking penalty charges.
This is so local councils could bring down fines for minor parking violations.
In addition, it wants town halls to publish their parking accounts in an attempt to create more transparency surrounding fines.
Today, the DfT responded to a Commons Transport Select Committee study which found "a deep-rooted perception that local authorities view parking enforcement as a cash cow".
The department claimed it is "hard to justify parking fines that are substantially more than the fines for more serious offences like speeding".
Public consultation on parking issues
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin pegged parking penalty charges last month for the rest of the present Parliament.
McLoughlin also announced a public consultation on parking matters.
This included whether five-minute grace periods, which some local authorities already offer voluntarily, should be made a statuary requirement.
It also wants public opinion on whether to stop the employment of cameras for on-street parking enforcement.
The consultation will finish on 14 February.
Government's consultation welcomed
Louise Ellman, chairwoman of the Transport Select Committee, welcomed the government's consultation on the study's results.
She said: "There is a feeling that people aren't being treated very fairly, and that's what the report was about.
"Councils do have a lot of discretion and that's right as it is a local service. But it is about being reasonable.
"Councils must be much clearer about what they are doing with their money and what money they are making."
Ellman said that councils are not legally permitted to raise parking fines in order to increase revenue, but that government has to make the law more obvious to councils.