Councils get new powers to issue driving fines

Changes to the law early this year allowed councils to apply to take on certain police powers and the transfer of authority is set to take place on 1 June.

From that date, any council which applied to be the local “enforcement authority” will be able to issue fines of up to £70 for a range of “moving traffic offences”.

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The change in authority is intended to ease pressure on police forces and make it easier for councils to enforce road rules.

Councils will be able to fine drivers who obstruct box junctions

It will allow them to issue fines to drivers who block yellow box junctions, who drive in cycle lanes or who ignore road instructions such as no entry or no left/right turn signs.

Announcing the planned change last year, Transport Minister Baroness Vere said it would give local authorities the right tools to “manage roads in the way that best serves local needs”.

The RAC has said that while councils need powers to stop repeated rule-breaking poorly planned or enforced rules, especially around junctions, could lead to “countless” unfair and unnecessary fines being issued.

The organisation’s head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “It’s absolutely crucial that yellow box junctions are enforced fairly and, as things stand, this may not be the case, which will mean many drivers will be treated poorly and lose out financially as a result.”

There is no currently no legal requirement for councils to meet the basic design criteria of yellow box junctions – which set out the size and visibility of the markings.

Mr Lyes said: “We have written to the Department for Transport asking them to update the guidance to make it clear to local authorities what the minimum standard for design and condition of a box junction should be before letting enforcement begin, but they are adamant the present guidance is sufficient.

“We are worried that failing to update guidance to include the lessons learnt from more than 15 years of enforcement in London will lead to countless wrong fines being issued, no end of unnecessary stress for drivers who feel they have been unfairly treated and thousands of wasted council hours investigating appeals.”

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