Thursday, October 6, 2022

Less than half of fines handed out by Thurrock Council over last year have been paid

By Local Democracy Reporter

LESS than half of the fines handed out by Thurrock Council over the last year have been paid, it has been revealed.

Thurrock Council only managed to collect 49 per cent of the 4,198 notices given out in 2020/21, 7 per cent less than the previous year.

The authority was unable to reveal how much revenue had been lost due to the unpaid fines.

Fines can range from £20 if paid within 28 days for leaving an engine idling, £100 for nuisance parking, £150 for littering and graffiti to £200 for leaving an engine idling.

John Kent, Labour councillor for Grays Thurrock ward questioned what was being done to recover the fines for the cash-strapped council, which was last year reported to be £1billion in debt.

Speaking at the latest corporate overview and scrutiny committee meeting, Mr Kent said: “Payment of fixed penalty notices we see that it’s fallen to 49 per cent but the year before it was still only 56 per cent.

“It is incredibly low and I know that that has always been the case. It isn’t a criticism of the current regime. They didn’t drop off a cliff in 2016. It’s always been difficult to enforce fixed penalty notices.

“I’d like to get a feel of what we are doing, what extra steps we are putting in place to try and get people to pay up.”

In the council’s annual report to councillors officers said: “Payment rates have been low all year as many recipients of fixed penalty notices are either stating that they are unable to pay due to being furloughed with lower income or recently being made unemployed.

“The council has also received a significant amount of requests for extensions to payments which we have been approving. Where fixed penalty notices are not paid, these are processed through the court.”

The report added: “The service continues to work with recipients of fixed penalty notices by allowing extension periods to make payment. The situation will continue to be closely monitored throughout 2021/22 with plans to revert to the processes relating to chasing payments for fixed penalty notices as the pressures of Coved-19 begin to reduce.

“In the interim the service continue to sensitively chase payment, and ultimately progress the cases to court when payment terms are not met.”

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