Car park fees and penalties 'are enforced at night', Lancaster councillors told

Car park payment rules in Lancaster and Morecambe are being enforced at night with penalties handed to motorists who try to avoid paying, councillors have been told.

Reassurances about car park enforcement at night came at the latest full meeting of Lancaster City Council during an update on recent changes to car parks.

In May, new time options and fees were introduced in an attempt to simplify city council car park arrangements across the district. But some aspects, including public consultation, time allocations and a perceived lack of options for visitors going to restaurants, arts or theatre events, were criticised by some businesses, residents and councillors.

As a result, further changes were made which the council said balanced different factors including traffic flow, business, tourism, pollution and cost of living pressures.

Lancaster city centre.

Labour councillor Colin Hartley asked how effective a 6pm to 8am tariff is, what car park enforcement activity has taken place between 6pm and 8am since the original £4 charge was introduced in early May, and if any penalty charge notices have been issued,

Green councillor and cabinet member Gina Dowding said: “Evening tariffs have been in place at all city council car parks since 2005. There is no suggestion that users of our car parks are doing so without paying for the overnight tariff.

“Transactions overnight equate to approximately four per cent of all transactions since May 6 and income levels are in line with this.

"It is almost impossible to be sure that 100 per cent of all users pay for a tariff, but this is also the case in the daytime hours. Some will always take a risk, but this number is small. Obviously we don’t announce when we’re doing enforcement activity.

“The city council pays for 4,800 hours of enforcement time per year. The hours of this enforcement work vary to fall in line with busy periods, events and seasonal trends. Since May 6, there has been focused, limited hours of enforcement after 6pm.

“This has partly been impacted by Lancashire County Council reorganisation of the enforcement system and impact on staffing and shift patterns.

"It is envisaged that this will expand, at various times, throughout the summer months. The enforcement provider has confirmed there have been 20 penalty charge notices issued after 6pm since May 6.”