A conman who used a faulty parking meter to con motorists out of millions of pounds, has been ordered to repay the cash or face jail.
It's a small victory for motorists, but there's a long way to go.
The crimeSteven Ryan, a 56-year-old from Solihull, had been found guilty of conspiracy to defraud back in February 2011. At that point he was jailed for two-and-a-half years. However, he subsequently returned to court for a 'proceeds of crime' hearing, where he was ordered to repay the cash or face a longer sentence.
According to the Birmingham Mail, Ryan had run his scam out of Roses car park in Digbeth, Birmingham. He used a rigged meter, which accepted £2 coins, but did not provide the credit to motorists.
It meant they would pay the correct amount, but when they returned to their car they would find it had been clamped and towed. They were then forced to pay £315 to have their vehicle released.
He was jailed for the scam, but the court then called him back to assess what he should repay under the proceeds of crime act. The Daily Mail reported that Judge Murray Creed ruled that Ryan's failure to provide documentation had made it hard to assess his full assets. However, because some of the claims he had made about money he had spent was not shown in bank statements, he concluded that other money was being held elsewhere. He gave Ryan six months to repay £2,837,349, and warned that if he failed, he could face ten years in prison.
CostsIt's a great result for Trading Standards who brought the case, and for the Act. However, it's a very small step for Britain's motorists, who are paying enormous sums for parking.
Those who are caught parking against the rules are paying more than ever. Swiftcover.com found last year that parking fines generated at least £234 million for councils in 2011. On average, 74,257 fines were paid to each council.
However, you don't have to break the rules to pay more. The Local Government Association has announced today that local authorities are making an astonishing £411 million profit from parking - which is an increase of 14.9% in a year. Outside of London the level of penalties has remained static, and the extra income is thought to come from more residents' parking zones and longer hours that charges apply.
Separate research from Confused.com found that we pay up to £8 billion a year on parking costs. The survey found that 69% of drivers intentionally avoided shopping areas with high parking prices.
But what do you think? Are car parking charges outlandish? Is it enough to put you off driving to town? Let us know in the comments.