Preston tops parking ticket league

Preston has been crowned the parking ticket capital of Lancashire.

New figures show that 12,051 penalty charge notices were handed out in just six months, raking in a potential 351,530.

But only 8,753 of those handed out were paid, with 1,398 being cancelled and 1,177 still waiting to be settled.

That still makes Preston the place with the most parking tickets in Lancashire, dwarfing neighbouring South Ribble, where motorists were hit with just 1,351 tickets.

The county council figures, which exclude Blackpool and Blackburn-with-Darwen, shows 57,868 tickets were handed out by Parkwise traffic wardens across the county between April and September 2007.

Nicholas Watson, joint chief executive of Preston Chamber of Trade, said the figures only added to the belief the city was "a difficult place to visit".

He added: "The concern from traders' point of view is if people think it will cost them a fortune to park in the city centre, they might decide to go and park for free at somewhere like the Trafford Centre instead."

Coun Michael Lavalette, who represents the town centre ward on Preston Council, said the figures could be even higher when private clamping firms' tickets were accounted for.

The Respect councillor said: "The easy thing to do is keep hammering people with parking tickets, but what we need is to improve public transport in Preston and convince people to come in by bus or by train rather than driving in and parking illegally."

A county council spokesman said Parkwise had helped to reduce anti-social parking, improve road safety and detect untaxed vehicles.

He added: "Written off tickets account for just 0.4% of all PCNs and this figure is not a major concern.

"However, if someone refuses to pay we are able to resort to employing bailiffs to recover the debt."