All councils to get powers to enforce moving traffic offences from December


All councils in England and Wales can apply for powers to issue fines of up to £70 to drivers for moving traffic offences before the end of 2021, it has been confirmed by the Department for Transport today.

In a statement this week, Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Transport, Baroness Vere, said that from December, local authorities ‘will be able to enforce moving traffic offences, such as banned turns, box junctions and driving in formal cycle lanes’.

The DfT confirmed to This is Money that all councils will be able to make an application to take responsibility for the enforcement of these minor contraventions from December. 

It will be the first time local authorities outside of London and Cardiff will be allowed to issue penalty charge notices for these types of offences, which are currently enforced by the police only.

The RAC said it is ‘fearful’ that some authorities may be ‘over enthusiastic’ in using their new powers for revenue raising reasons.

A report by the motoring group last year revealed that the UK and Welsh capitals raked in £58.2million in moving traffic offence fines in the financial year 2018/19, with more than half of the funds generated – at £31.4million – coming from penalties for yellow-box junction infringements. 

Power shift: The Department for Transport has confirmed that local authorities will be able apply for powers to enforce moving traffic offences, such as banned turns and stopping illegally in box junctions, in their areas from December

Power shift: The Department for Transport has confirmed that local authorities will be able apply for powers to enforce moving traffic offences, such as banned turns and stopping illegally in box junctions, in their areas from December

According to website LocalGov, Baroness Vere told the Traffex industry event on Tuesday: ‘Local authorities will need the tools to manage roads in the way that best serves local needs, which may vary in different parts of the country, and it is this ethos of localism that lies behind our decision to give more powers to local authorities under the Traffic Management Act.

‘So from December, local authorities will be able to enforce moving traffic offences, such as banned turns, box junctions and driving in formal cycle lanes. 

‘They will be expected to use these powers to improve connectivity, boost active travel, and increase air quality by reducing congestion.

‘And to ensure this change is fair, we will publish guidance for local authorities, so they can make drivers aware that enforcement is being undertaken.’

The Transport Committee previously recommended for councils to be give powers to enforce these offence types dye to the police generally being under resourced and unable to widely and effectively enforce moving traffic contraventions. 

Cllr David Renard, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, also told online viewers at the event that councils had been ‘calling for powers to make our roads safer and less congested’, adding that it was ‘good news’ that local authorities will be given the responsibility to fine motorists breaching the rules.  

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Only authorities in the capital and Cardiff can currently issue fines for moving traffic contraventions, which are enforced using ‘Big Brother’ style Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras scattered across the cities. 

Among the list of minor moving traffic offences councils will be able to enforce includes motorists incorrectly driving in formal cycle lanes

Among the list of minor moving traffic offences councils will be able to enforce includes motorists incorrectly driving in formal cycle lanes

MPs have argued that tight police budgets and a decline in officer numbers have resulted in plans to be drawn up to give councils the powers to enforce moving traffic infringements. 

The DfT reiterated its intention to extend rules to all councils in England and Wales in January, with Transport Minister Rachel Maclean saying it would take months to make changes to legislation to allow local authorities to sting motorists with fines for minor traffic offences.  

‘Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 requires a set of statutory instruments to be made covering enforcement, level of penalties, financial provisions, approved devices, adjudication and representations and appeals,’ she explained earlier this year.   

Once in place, local authorities will be allowed to make applications to take control of enforcement powers in their areas – a process that can begin from December this year. 

Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras are currently used in London and Cardiff to enforce fines at junctions with no turn rules, such as this one in Holborn

Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras are currently used in London and Cardiff to enforce fines at junctions with no turn rules, such as this one in Holborn

Commenting on the news that powers may be handed to authorities from December, RAC spokesman Simon Williams said it was right for councils in England and Wales to have the ability to enforce known rule-breaking hotspots, but added that the motoring organisation is ‘fearful’ that some authorities may be ‘over enthusiastic’ in using their new powers for revenue raising reasons, to the detriment of drivers.

‘While the Government has pledged to give councils advice on how best to let drivers know enforcement is taking place, what’s really needed is clear guidance on making sure enforcement is always carried out fairly,’ he told This is Money.

‘Drivers who blatantly ignore signage or highway rules should expect penalties, but there are instances which are not always clear-cut. 

‘For example, large yellow box junctions can be particularly problematic to get across without stopping, often due to their design, so it’s important common sense is applied rather than instantly issuing penalties to drivers.’ 

Williams said councils should firstly review their road layouts at junctions to ensure drivers can negotiate them at all times – especially during busy periods – without confusion.

He also said that councils show act responsibly by monitoring the number of PCNs issued in certain areas from December to identify if there is incorrect signage or design of roads that is causing so many motorists to breach rules.

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‘More broadly, there’s a good argument for authorities to issue warning letters in the first instance rather than fines,’ he said. 

‘We also believe drivers should be able to appeal easily if, for example, they receive a penalty for slightly moving into a yellow box to allow an emergency vehicle through.’

While fines of up to £70 can be applied for such offences, councils will be forced to offer discounts for PCNs that are paid early – usually within 14 days of being issued. 

London and Cardiff authorities pocket almost £60m from minor moving traffic offences a year, says RAC

London and Cardiff pocketed a combined £58.2million from drivers who committed moving traffic offences in a year, according to a report published by the RAC last year. 

More than half of the fines – at £31.4million – were from yellow-box junction infringements in the financial year 2018/19, which continue to prove lucrative for authorities across both capitals.

One of these junctions, a yellow box in Westminster generated a staggering £333,295, the investigation found. 

The enforcement of these in the two cities increased by 25 per cent compared to two years earlier, a comparison to previous studies highlighted.

A similar investigation by the RAC found that authorities raked in £46.7million from these types of fines in 2016/17 – meaning an additional profit of £11.5million in the 2018/19 financial year earnings. 

The figures were revealed after the motoring group issued a freedom of information request to all local authorities that are currently able to enforce these offences in England and Wales. 

The interactive table below shows the number of fines in thousands and the money brought in from yellow box contraventions. If you’re reading this story on the Mail Online app and can’t see the table, click this link to view in on our website. 

Commenting on the findings of last year’s report, the RAC said the percentage increase in the number of PCNs issued was greater than the revenue increase. 

In 2016/17 councils issued 752,871 PCNs, rising to 1,007,405 in 2018/19, which equates to a 34 per cent hike.

Authorities in London and Cardiff pocketed revenues of £4.4million for 'no entry' contraventions in 2018/19

Authorities in London and Cardiff pocketed revenues of £4.4million for ‘no entry’ contraventions in 2018/19

Yellow box junctions were – yet again – by far the most lucrative.

Drivers can be fined up to £130 for unlawfully stopping in a yellow box, though most PCNs issued will halve this cost if paid within a fortnight of the ticket being issued. 

Motorists caught stopping in them by CCTV cameras were fined a combined £31.4milllion in 2018/19, compared to £22.3million for ‘no turn’ offences and £4.4million for ‘no entry’ contraventions.

At the time the report was published, RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said that London boroughs, TfL and Cardiff had been ‘generating phenomenal sums of money’ from the enforcement of moving traffic offences.

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‘The vast majority of drivers we’ve surveyed agree that those who stop on yellow boxes, make illegal turns or go through ‘no entry’ signs need to be penalised, but when it comes to extending powers to other councils many are concerned, with 68 per cent thinking local authorities will rush to install cameras to generate additional revenue.’

Lyes added that four in 10 drivers (39 per cent) also believed that road layouts and signage will be made to be ‘deliberately confusing’ to increase the number of PCNs issued. 

‘Clearly, the priority for enforcement should be to improve road safety and reduce congestion,’ he explained.

Moving traffic offence ‘danger zones’ in London and Cardiff revealed

Transport for London has 399 yellow box junctions but declined to disclose to the RAC how many are enforced

Transport for London has 399 yellow box junctions but declined to disclose to the RAC how many are enforced

Yellow box junctions

Of the authorities which benefitted the most from the enforcement of yellow box junctions, TfL topped the table with a revenue of nearly £10million (£9,969,545 – 135,923 PCNs) in 2018/19.

However, in terms of single councils, Hammersmith & Fulham was the runaway leader with a £3.5million yellow box revenue pot (from 53,576 PCNs) generated from 16 enforced junctions out of 23 in its area.

It was £1.1million ahead of its nearest rival Redbridge, which made £2.4million (34,782 PCNs from 14 enforced junctions out of a total of 35). 

Merton, the only other council to pocket more than £2million in yellow box penalties, was third on £2.2million (31,081 PCNs from 27 enforced junctions, no overall total of junctions available).

In terms of average revenues per enforced junction, Westminster recorded the highest figure with a single junction generating £333,295 from 4,595 PCNs. Hammersmith & Fulham had the second largest average on £223,472 (£3.5million from 16 enforced junctions) and Richmond had the second largest average revenue with £156,117.

TfL has 399 yellow box junctions but declined to disclose how many are enforced.  

No turn offences

Three authorities topped £2million in revenue from ‘no turn’ offences with Ealing even managing to outdo TfL with a revenue of £2.6million (from 44,612 PCNs) versus £2million (£2,093,651, from 28,978 PCNs). 

Hackney had the third highest total on £1,888,845.

No entry offences

Harrow was top for ‘no entry’ offences with a revenue of £549,785 followed by Southwark on £420,760 and Islington on £357,265. 

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