- Ministers have indicated that they are prepared to hand controversial powers to councils to enforce civil penalties for minor driving offences
- Enforcing the rules is currently the job of the police but they rarely take formal action over so-called moving traffic violations
- This could bring the whole of England into line with London where local transport officials already use traffic cameras to issue penalty notices
Motorists face the threat of new automatic £130 fines imposed by cash-hungry councils under Government plans to give priority to cyclists and pedestrians after the pandemic.
Ministers have signalled that they are prepared to give controversial powers to councils to enforce civil penalties for minor driving offences such as straying into cycle lanes or stopping in box junctions. Enforcing the rules is currently the job of the police but they rarely take formal action over so-called moving traffic violations.
But to help councils fund and operate new cycle lanes and other traffic-reduction measures after the pandemic, Ministers are preparing to hand over legal powers of enforcement to local government officials.
The change would bring the whole of England into line with London where local transport officials currently use traffic cameras to issue more than a million penalty notices every year.
Fines in the capital are set at £130 for each offence. The move would mark a retreat from the Government’s previous position when Ministers refused to hand councils such powers, fearing they would treat motorists as cash-cows.
Junior Transport Minister Baroness Vere told the House of Lords that the Government was looking at giving councils enforcement powers under the 2004 Traffic Management Act.
It comes as the coronavirus crisis prompts plans for a dramatic expansion of cycling and walking to reduce the use of public transport in towns and cities.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps recently announced a £2billion package to fund new cycle lanes, wider pavements and safer junctions, but cycling campaigners and council chiefs say tougher enforcement of traffic laws is also required.
Both groups have long lobbied Ministers to activate Section 6 of the Traffic Act, which covers relatively minor violations such as driving in cycle lanes, disregarding one-way systems or box junction markings, and failing to give priority to oncoming traffic.