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Councils able to fine box junction offenders - but should they have this power?


Cardiff Council can issue penalties to anyone stopping in a box junction but should it have the power?

Road box junction

Offenders are caught on camera for obstructing traffic but the penalty doesn’t apply in all counties.

Police powers

At the moment in most parts of the UK, only the police are able to take such action.

But Cardiff’s is the latest move by a local authority to seek greater powers to crack down on minor traffic violations.

The council has been granted permission to impose fines by the Welsh government.

Cardiff’s system – similar to that in force in London – has been in effect since December 2014.

Scheme not to make profit

It applies to unauthorised use of bus lanes, cars which stop in box junctions and parking that blocks access to schools.

Cardiff had originally asked for traffic wardens to be given the ability to fine motorists, but the spokesman said the cameras would help provide stronger evidence of any violations.

Councillor Ramesh Patel denied that the scheme was being introduced simply to raise money - his primary concern is safety.

'Keep the city moving'

"All revenue obtained from the issuing of penalties will be ring-fenced to cover operating costs with any surplus used for spending on transport schemes," he said.

These enforcement powers were previously with the South Wales Police and have been transferred to the Council.

"What we intend to do here is enforce the basic principles set out in the Highway Code.

"It is essential that we keep the city moving, so we will be focussing on the main arterial routes into the city and the city centre."

'Risk of abuse'

Roll of bank notes

Motoring lawyer Jeanette Miller said she was concerned that such schemes could turn into money-spinners for local authorities.

"Problems seem to be repeatedly highlighted by the media surrounding revenue-raising linked to local authority fine collection," she said.

"Of course it makes sense for there to be systems in place to ensure the safe and efficient free flow of traffic."

"However, I can't help but think this devolution of power to the local authority will carry with it a significant risk of the same abuse that has been seen in London."

Evidence of money-making

"If this is how the rest of the country is likely to go, then I think there needs to be a proper look at regulation of the local authorities who receive these powers."

"At present, there is no regulation in place."

BBC investigation found evidence that some councils in London were discussing financial targets for certain junctions.

This is despite the fact that they should be doing all they can to reduce the number of violations.

Outside the capital, some local authorities have been given powers to fine drivers who enter bus lanes but not yet for other offences.

However, the likes of Reading, Bristol and Birmingham have over recent years been lobbying for greater powers like those that have been awarded to Cardiff.


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