The government has provoked anger among motorists after confirming that it is considering raising the cap on parking fines outside London from its current level of £70.
Norman Baker, the Transport Secretary, told MPs that he was considering the hike after it was suggested that parking prices have risen so much that, "the penalty no longer becomes a deterrent."
Mr Baker added that such a move would also bring the rest of the country into line with London, where the parking fine cap has increased to £130 in recent years.
"There is an argument that the maximum charge... is coming out of line with London, where it has risen regularly under both the present and the previous Mayor," he said.
Motorists' groups have reacted angrily, with concern about local authorities using the fines as a way of raising revenue rather than keeping traffic flowing.
Edmund King, the AA's President, said: "It's hard enough at the moment for motorists to cope with the cost of fuel and insurance. Just keeping the car running is a struggle for them."
Mr Baker has acknowledged that any hike could, "send the wrong messages during a difficult time in the economy to motorists," and added that no decision had yet been taken on the matter.
It has recommended that parking charges be increased every four years.
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