A traffic warden slapped a £130 penalty charge notice on a funeral car claiming it was breaching loading restrictions. The vehicle was waiting outside St Saviours Church in Lewisham High Street, South London, part of a funeral cortege for an 85-year-old dead man.

Lewisham Council has apologised. But there is growing concern about alleged traffic fine council abuse on the public.

Distress

"We wouldn't let them put a ticket on the car in front of the family," Nicki Dunphy, who runs William Dunphy funeral directors, told South London News Shopper on the Lewisham funeral cortege incident, "but she just carried on and did it even though they were very distressed."

More recently a motorist forced Bristol City Council to apologise after he was fined for pulling into a bus lane to let two fire engines pass his car.

The episodes highlight how traffic fines have become increasingly useful for hard-up councils. For example, documents from London's Hammersmith and Fulham Council, via a Freedom of Information request, lays bare fine targets for this borough's traffic enforcement team in a BBC TV program tonight.

'Another record month'

Panorama will show, it claims, how Hammersmith and Fulham council officials apparently congratulate each other on the number of tickets raised - "Another record month, guys. Well done," one is quoted in the program blurb - and visits the box junction known as the 'Money Box', where 29,000 council fines were issued last year.

Motoring law specialist Jeanette Miller, told the Guardian that this borough's approach "is completely contradictory to the purpose that the local authorities are supposed to serve. Their job is to reduce the number of contraventions."

According to the Insititute of Advanced Motorists, councils across England hauled in £411m in fines in 2012, up £53m from 2011. Westminster took £38m, up 8.7% on 2011, while the biggest earner outside London was Brighton & Hove, grabbing £13.7m, up almost 19% on the previous year.


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