Councils in England and Wales will be given new powers to fine motorists up to £70 for minor traffic offences such as stopping in yellow box junctions, illegal turns and driving in cycle lanes from early next year. 

The Department for Transport will soon issue a new regulation that could allow councils in spring 2022 to issue fines for contraventions.

This will mark the beginning of local authority outside London and Cardiff having the power to issue penalty notices for such offences. These types are not currently being enforced in Britain by police officers elsewhere.     

The capital cities of England and Wales raked in £58.2million from penalties for these minor infringements in 2018/19, with more than half of funds generated – at £31.4million – from penalties for box junction offences, a report by the RAC revealed last year. 

Power shift: DfT is setting out a change to regulation next month to allow  councils in England and Wales to issue fines to drivers for minor offences, such as stopping in box junctions

The DfT confirmed to This is Money that all councils will be able to make an application to take responsibility for the enforcement of these minor contraventions once the regulations have been laid, which is due to take place in December.

A spokesperson for the Government department said councils in England and Wales will need to apply for the powers ‘which we can grant to them via Designation Orders, which is a form of secondary legislation’. 

The result is that the councils won’t be able use these powers before late spring 2022. 

The RAC already expressed concern about new rules. It stated that authorities could be ‘overly enthusiastic’ with their power to increase revenue. Drivers will experience a large spike in the amount of fines.

From spring 2022, councils will be enforcing minor traffic offenses.

  • Illegal turning 
  • No entry zone for driving 
  • Stopping at a box junction 
  • You can drive the wrong direction on a one way street. 
  • Illegal Uturns 
  • Refusing to yield to traffic coming in front 

These laws are being enforced by the capitals with ANPR cameras (Big Brother) scattered throughout the cities. This will be likely to continue across all councils once authorities have taken control.

For some time, The Transport Committee has been asking for the power to enforce certain types of offences by local councils. 

MPs argue that ineffective enforcement has been caused by a reduction in the number of officers and tighter police budgets.

The DfT reiterated its intention to extend rules to all councils in England and Wales in January, with Transport Minister Rachel Maclean saying it would take months to make changes to legislation to allow local authorities to sting motorists with fines for minor traffic offences.  

“Part 6” of the Traffic Management Act 2004 mandates a collection of statutory tools to cover enforcement, amount of penalties, financial provision, approved devices and adjudication, representations and appeals. She stated earlier in this year.   

One of the minor offenses that councils may enforce is motorists driving on cycle lanes.

Once the law is in effect, local authorities are allowed to apply for control over enforcement powers within their respective areas. The process can start in December. 

Simon Williams, RAC spokesman, said it was right for councils in England and Wales to have the ability to enforce known rule-breaking hotspots, but added that the motoring organisation is ‘fearful’ that some authorities may be ‘over enthusiastic’ in using their new powers for revenue raising reasons, to the detriment of drivers.

He said that although the Government had promised to offer advice to local councils about how to notify drivers when enforcement is underway, what is really required is clarity on how enforcement should be conducted fairly. This is Money.

“Drivers who ignore signs or obey highway rules must be punished, although there may be other situations that are more complicated. 

“In particular, drivers may find it difficult to navigate large yellow junctions without needing to stop. This can often be due to the design of these intersections. Common sense should prevail over instantaneous penalties. 

Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras are currently used in London and Cardiff to enforce fines at junctions with no turn signals, such as this one in Holborn

In London and Cardiff, automatic number plate recognition cameras are used to enforce fines at intersections without turn signals like this one in Holborn.

Williams stated that councils need to first review the road layouts at intersections in order for drivers to be able navigate them without difficulty, especially when they are busy.

Additionally, he said that the councils must be responsible in monitoring PCNs that are issued to areas that have been identified as offence hotspots. This will help to determine if incorrect signage is being used or roads designed that cause motorists to break rules.

“More generally, there is a strong argument for authorities that warning letters be issued in the first instance instead of fines,” he stated. 

“We believe that drivers should also be allowed to appeal if they are given a penalty for moving slightly into yellow boxes to let an emergency vehicle through.

While fines of up to £70 can be applied for such offences, councils will be forced to offer discounts for PCNs that are paid early – usually within 14 days of being issued. 

London and Cardiff authorities pocket almost £60m from minor moving traffic offences a year, says RAC

Authorities in London and Cardiff pocketed revenues of £4.4million for 'no entry' contraventions in 2018/19

Authorities in London and Cardiff pocketed revenues of £4.4million for ‘no entry’ contraventions in 2018/19

London and Cardiff pocketed a combined £58.2million from drivers who committed moving traffic offences in a year, according to a report published by the RAC last year. 

More than half of the fines – at £31.4million – were from yellow-box junction infringements in the financial year 2018/19, which continue to prove lucrative for authorities across both capitals.

One of these junctions, a yellow box in Westminster generated a staggering £333,295, the investigation found. 

These were enforced in two more cities than two years ago, which is a contrast to other studies.

A similar investigation by the RAC found that authorities raked in £46.7million from these types of fines in 2016/17 – meaning an additional profit of £11.5million in the 2018/19 financial year earnings. 

The figures were revealed after the motoring group issued a freedom of information request to all local authorities that are currently able to enforce these offences in England and Wales.  

The RAC stated, commenting on last year’s results, that the percentage growth in PCNs issued was higher than revenue. 

The 2016/17 Councils issued 752,871 PCNs. In 2018/19 the number of PCNs increased to 1,007.405 which is 34% more. 

Again, yellow box junctions proved to be the most lucrative.

Drivers can be fined up to £130 for unlawfully stopping in a yellow box, though most PCNs issued will halve this cost if paid within a fortnight of the ticket being issued. 

Motorists caught stopping in them by CCTV cameras were fined a combined £31.4milllion in 2018/19, compared to £22.3million for ‘no turn’ offences and £4.4million for ‘no entry’ contraventions.

Nicholas Lyes from RAC’s roads policy department stated at the time that enforcement of traffic violations had been generating a ‘phenomenal amount of money’ for London boroughs and Cardiff.

“The overwhelming majority of drivers that we’ve interviewed agree that illegal stops, making illegal turns, and violating ‘no entry’ signs should be punished. However, when it comes time to extend powers to other local councils, many are worried, with 68% believing that the authorities will rush in to put cameras up to increase revenue.

Lyes stated that 49% of drivers (39%), believed road signage and layouts would be deliberately confusing to raise the number PCNs. 

He explained that enforcement must be a priority to increase road safety and decrease congestion. 

MOTORING: You can save money

Logo L&C

This article might contain affiliate links. Clicking on these links may result in us earning a small commission. This is money helps fund it and we keep it for free. Our articles aren’t written for the purpose of promoting products. Our editorial independence is not affected by any commercial relationships.