Specialist bailiffs on trial to chase up unpaid parking fines across North Lincolnshire
Specialist bailiffs will now be used by North Lincolnshire Council to claw back money owed by errant motorists refusing to pay fixed penalty charges.
More than £59,000 is still unpaid for the period April 1 to September 30, during which £126,173 was successfully collected.
The council considers £2,760 to be "potential write-offs" and has "cancelled" £14,465 in notices issued to drivers.
The authority achieved a recovery rate of 86 per cent for the first full financial year since it took over the enforcement of on-street parking from the police.
FREE MEAL OFFER at our award winning restaurantView details
Whatever your occasion, book a table for 6 or more and we will give you a free meal up to the value of £15 with this voucher.
Terms: Cannot be used with any other offers or vouchers. Your email address.......................... (if you want to receive vouchers in the future). Print voucher or show us the voucher on your phone.
Contact: 01724 281289
Valid until: Thursday, July 18 2013
It says this level of collection compares very well with neighbouring authorities; North East Lincs managed 66.9 per cent and the East Riding of Yorkshire 70 per cent.
A report considered yesterday at top level within the council says staff believe they are doing "virtually everything possible" to collect the cash.
"However, there is a firm of bailiffs who specialise in recycled debts," the report explains. "They claim to be able to secure income where other bailiffs have failed.
"We propose exploring engaging this company on a trial basis for those debts that are still within the warrant period (warrants are valid for 12 months).
"We also propose that our existing bailiffs pursue any debts where warrants have expired, through the debt recovery process.
"This means further letters, telephone calls and possibly home visits in order to collect any available payment."
Councillor Nigel Sherwood (Brigg and Wolds), Cabinet Member of Highways and Neighbourhoods, yesterday decided the council should continue to make diligent efforts to recover penalty charge notice debt and that Bristow Sutor bailiffs will be appointed on a trial basis "to attempt to recover appropriate outstanding debts."
Marston and Jacobs bailiffs will also be requested to follow up their uncollectable warrants through the debt recovery process.
The council's latest position on debt recovery will now be reported at cabinet level every six months.
Formal write-offs of debt will be referred to the cabinet "as appropriate."
There remains what is described by the authority as a core of non-recoverable debts, reasons for which include untraceable drivers, unregistered vehicles, drivers who have moved away from North Lincolnshire (and efforts to find new address have been exhausted), people who have died, "foreign vehicles" and even some motorists who have gone to prison.
The stages followed by the council to chase up penalty charge notices (PCN) until they are settled are:
Month 1: Penalty Charge Notice issued, 28 days to pay.
Month 2: Notice to owner issued, 28 days to pay or put in formal representation.
Month 3: Charge Certificate issued, increasing PCN by 50%, 14 days to pay.
Month 4: The council registers the debt with the Traffic Enforcement Centre.
Month 5: Warrants passed to bailiffs.