Parking charges. They’re great, aren’t they? Well, not really.
So how could you avoid them without facing the full wrath of the law? You could become a diplomat I suppose.
Figures recently released by Transport for London show that foreign diplomats in the UK get away without paying a huge amount of parking fines and congestion charges.
They are immune from such trivialities are these but both Westminster Council and Transport for London still record the figures and make a rather half-hearted attempt to collect them.
The headline figure is that total amount racked up by all the foreign diplomats in London in the last decade is over £66 million. Of that, almost £1.5 million of parking fees are classed as outstanding.
Gold Medal for the US
So who are worst offenders? Stand up Barack. That’s right, Mr Obama’s car loving diplomatic buddies have racked up £6 million in congestion charges since the charge started. This is especially impressive when you think that the charge only came into effect in 2003.
The prize for worst parkers goes, perhaps rather surprisingly, to the Sudanese officials. They have somehow managed to run up parking fines of almost £130,000 in the last 7 years. Next comes Kazakhstan, a couple of thousand pounds behind. Afghanistan is in third place.
The best behaved foreign diplomats are from Seychelles. They owe absolutely nothing in parking or congestion charges. Our friends from Malawi only owe £60 and we aren’t go to cause an international incident over that, are we?
Councillor Dan Astaire of Westminster City Council says that the fines for embassy vehicles often come from a “lack of understanding” of the local rules. That’s a lot of misunderstanding though.
I wonder how much British diplomats abroad avoid in parking fines? I was at the British Embassy in La Paz last week and I didn’t see any cars but there are a bike parked outside which looked like it was double parked.