Businessman hires 'van sitters' to beat wardens

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Congestion charge zone extension

London maintenance firm boss Will Davies pays young people £8 an hour to drive his vans around London rather than risk parking fines. Davies claims his parking bill fine used to be as much as £1,500 a week.

But it's cheaper to pay a 'van sitter' to nip around the corner after dropping off an engineer to do a job. Will the idea catch on?



Keep moving

Hiring someone to mind your vehicle might seem silly but may be the only workable solution to overzealous parking wardens," he told the Mail. "We are offering the service to those who travel and work in the city, such as handymen and other tradespeople, and must park for extended periods at or near a single address."

Large chunks of employee earnings can be wiped out from fines - and the situation is just getting worse with less parking available and more fines being meted out he says. Currently Davies has 115 vehicles criss-crossing London used by decorators, locksmiths and electricians though his van sitters currently number around 25.

However many companies will bill the client for parking costs, so large scale adoption may be unlikely. Keeping vehicles moving like this isn't good news for traffic flow or, of course, air quality - a hidden killer (diesel fumes are widely thought to be more damaging than petrol fumes).

Mobile risk

There's also still some risk attached; Davies claims he's able to stop briefly on red routes, avoiding CCTV camera. However some councils increasingly make use of mobile CCTV vehicles - Westminster has a fleet of Smart cars that trundle around the borough monitoring traffic and catching those unawares.

In the past however, those who appealed against Westminster parking fines have won - overwhelmingly so. In 2009, Which? researchers discovered that almost 90% of those who challenged their fines in appeals won. This slipped to two thirds the following year.

Although there are 19 million cars on the road in England, nine million parking fines are issued by councils every year. Challenging fines though remains time-consuming.

Top ten UK car crime hotspots

Top ten UK car crime hotspots