Parking fines in Birmingham accounted for more than £4 million in revenue for the council last year. Jessica Winch headed to the city centre street which raked in the most to assess the mood of drivers and businesses.
Companies in Birmingham city centre claim business is being damaged and customers driven away by on-street parking restrictions.
New figures obtained by the Birmingham Post under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed the top 20 streets in central Birmingham where the most parking fines have been issued.
Waterloo Street, near Victoria Square, was hardest hit, topping the list in 2010 and 2011 with a total of 3,685 penalty tickets handed out. This street alone raised £92,895 in fines for Birmingham City Council.
It costs £5.40 for drivers to park for the maximum two hours in the inner city parking zone between 8am and 6pm, and in November last year the council also introduced evening and Sunday charges, with a maximum two-hour stay.
Grahame Griffiths, 58, a senior partner at Coley & Tilley solicitors, based in Waterloo Street, was scathing about the council’s treatment of unwary motorists.
“I think the time limit and the parking outside is terrible for clients,” he said. “We advise clients to try and avoid parking there. You don’t know how long they are going to be here and the parking wardens are very hot. Rather than regulate where you park, I think they’re out to make money out of you.”
Mr Griffiths said the decision to recently extend the hours of parking restrictions was “disgraceful”.
“A lot of people would not have realised,” he said. “You don’t necessarily go to check the meter or the sign if you’re so used to doing something. And there was no publicity, that I’m aware of. It’s almost as if they are trying to catch you out.”
Dr Jag Shergill, 42, who owns a dental practice on Waterloo Street said the parking restrictions affected staffing because every two hours they had to go out and put £5.40 in a meter.
He said: “It affects patients immensely. Many come in and put a half hour ticket on. But, with the nature of healthcare, you never quite know what’s going to happen, and before you know it they’ve got a parking ticket.
“There’s been about four or five occasions when I’ve actually paid the ticket on behalf of the patient because I felt it was completely intrusive for them.
“Obviously, you can’t rush a patient, because this is healthcare, you complete what you’re doing.”
He said over the past three years he had personally had more than 40 parking fines.
“The reason is very simple,” he said. “It’s every two hours. And if you have a patient in the chair – I’d rather get fined than leave them be as they are.”
He added: “We’ve definitely lost patients because parking is a real issue. The nearest off-street parking that I think is reasonable is at Snow Hill station, but again it’s a little bit of a trek for most patients.
“Occasionally we do a verbal questionnaire with patients and their main issue across the board is the lack of parking.
“Business is massively affected and it’s a challenging time.”
David Furnell, 26, is a staffing consultant at Kelly Services. He said parking was one reasons the firm rarely asked a client to visit their office on Waterloo Street.
“Clients and candidates never park outside, which doesn’t reflect well on us,” he said.
“We have company cars but we wouldn’t be able to park outside because it would be costing however much each day – it would be ridiculous.
“We’ve got a car park which is about half a mile away, and that’s the nearest we can get for it to be cost-effective for us.