Some Sunday morning musings from Mr Mustard.
Why do Penalty Charge Notices (parking tickets) have to involve money?
They don't, is the answer.
What other choices are there?
You could get a conditional discharge. The offending driver signs an undertaking that they won't park again on a school zig-zag or on a double yellow, on the pavement etc and they pay £nil. This way the behaviour of drivers is improved and the problem of bad parking slowly starts to go away. The current system, whereby 165,000 PCN a year are issued in Barnet, shows that the stick doesn't work. Nudge theory should be given a go.
You could simply be given a warning, the equivalent of a yellow card in football. These PCN do exist, the code comes with a W on the front of it and the penalty value is zero. Mr Mustard had one in about 2005 when his resident permit expired as he hadn't received the reminder. Much more use should be made of these for contraventions such as expired permits, wrong voucher details scratched, overstays of just a few minutes, paid for the wrong bay or wrong registration number, parked with a single wheel outside of the bay etc, i.e. the more minor offences.
If you are a regular offender then you could be required to do voluntary work, say one hour for a Lower value contravention and 2 hours for a Higher one. In the alternative you could, if you are already work long shifts and have childcare responsibilities opt to make a charitable donation. Imagine how much extra resource this would provide to charities who could gear themselves up to manage this influx of extra hands and would probably even get regular extra hours from the drivers concerned when they see how valuable and rewarding the tasks are. Imagine the difference an extra 165,000 hours of volunteer time would make within the borough. (Mr Mustard doesn't incur parking tickets in Barnet and doesn't have much leisure time either, but he does have a monthly standing order to the North London Hospice and his time spent on getting PCN cancelled helps because the motorists concerned often make donations as requested by him).
As is the case with speeding the council should similarly run "How to park safely and legally" courses which a small fee is paid for, say £25 for a 2 hour course and if you attend one your PCN is cancelled. They could take place all over the borough at different locations and times (evening and weekends included). There are plenty of church halls, sports and social clubs which have meeting rooms and are inexpensive to hire. These would be useful for newly qualified drivers to attend.
On the carrot front, if you own a vehicle registered in the borough and don't get a PCN in the whole 12 months, you could be rewarded, perhaps by a free residents permit for CPZ dwellers or some free visitor or parking vouchers for those who are outwith the CPZ areas but need to use them now and then.
Naturally, if parking control is all about revenue raising and not about the free flow of traffic and safety, none of these ideas will be taken up. Given that the council read my tweets (I will trail this post with a tweet) and my blogs, they can't say they don't know about my ideas.