Foreign drivers owe Westminster City Council more than a million pounds in parking fines – with France, Qatar, the UAE and Romania among the worst and repeat offenders.
The council released its annual “top ten” figures which reveal the most prolific parking offenders from across the globe in 2016/17.
French motorists are by far the most common parking offenders, being fined a total of £356,000 and drivers from across the Channel have already racked up £111,570 proving last year was no fluke. Qatar (£191,105) and the United Arab Emirates (£116,030) are in second and third place respectively. No surprise here as this is supercar boy racer territory.
Romania has climbed up Westminster’s most-ticketed board to claim fourth place with nationals owing the council £114,235. Meanwhile, its neighbours in Bulgaria claimed seventh place in the table, after accruing £77,585 in unpaid fines.
Germany made it to fifth place, with a total of £103,375 in fines while Belgium follows in sixth place (£84,160). Saudi Arabia has made the top ten for the first time pulling up in eighth place, with fines totalling £64,065.
The small Gulf state of Kuwait follows in ninth place (£55,530) and Ireland comes in at number ten with its nationals fined a total of £54,820.
Switzerland, USA, Italy and Luxembourg have all featured in the top ten in previous years but the most recent figures saw more Middle Eastern countries in the top ten than ever before.
LONG ARM OF THE LAW
In previous years individuals from Russia have racked up more than £10,000 after parking in the same spot for weeks on end. Westminster City Council says it works with embassies and organisations abroad to try and make drivers cough up. Well ask former London mayor Boris Johnson if he managed to get the American diplomats to part with a dime in fines. They always claimed diplomatic immunity arguing the fine was a form of tax.
The council is currently in the early stages of trialling a process of obtaining a judgment in the UK against foreign persistent evaders, with the potential to transfer proceedings abroad.
But it admits it can be an arduous task to track vehicle owners abroad so it is calling on the government to establish a system of international co-operation to allow local authorities to trace offending foreign motorists.
Cllr Danny Chalkley, Cabinet Member for City Highways, said: “We gladly welcome visitors from abroad who wish to visit our iconic roads and landmarks.
“However, drivers who park irresponsibly are a nuisance for our residents and visitors alike. This should be a reminder that a foreign number plate does not give you immunity from the law.
“We are committed to ensuring those who break the rules are forced to pay up.”