Foreign tourists are dodging UK parking fines because of their "untraceable" vehicles, council complains

Sam Meadows
A quirk of EU rules means it isn't possible to trace many drivers who have been issued with tickets in the UK - PA

Foreign tourists are dodging UK parking fines because their vehicles are "untraceable", a council has complained.

Figures released in response to a Freedom of Information request reveal that less than 100 of the 1,500 foreign motorists fined for parking offences in Thanet, Kent, in the past year actually coughed up. Council workers only chased up 133 of the 1,430 who failed to pay.

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said the failure was due to the lack of enforcement of an EU rule which means that cars registered overseas should be re-registered in the UK after six months. Thanet’s location close to Dover makes it a passing place for traffic headed overseas.

The “six-month” rule requires foreign drivers to register their vehicles after six months, but a spokesman for Thanet Council said this was often ignored and all it could do was issue a parking fine which is near-impossible to follow up.

Mr Mackinley told Kent Online it was “uneconomic” for councils to send bailiffs to chase fines in EU countries but that the enforcement of the six-month rule was a wider issue.

“This is an issue for the government,” he added. "I have proposed to ministers a simple number plate recognition system with databases at ports of entry to ensure the six-month rule is complied with. The UK is uniquely placed to manage this with few points of entry."

The council said the police would investigate EU vehicles they suspected are unregistered and would "continue to work" with the force to minimise the impact.

In June, The Telegraph reported that 400 foreign motorists who broke a temporary 50mph speed limit on the M20 in Kent escaped prosecution despite 900 British drivers being fined £100. 

This was because of another quirk of the rules which means that British authorities can request details of the keeper of a vehicle from other countries, but would need to prove who was driving to successfully prosecute.