Parking fines could be reduced and grace periods introduced, the Government has said, following criticism that councils use parking enforcement as a "cash cow".

The Department for Transport is considering legal options to abolish the minimum rates for parking penalty charges to allow local authorities to lower fines for minor parking violations.

It today formally responded to a Commons Transport Select Committee report published last year which found "a deep rooted perception that local authorities view parking enforcement as a cash cow".

It also said it was "hard to justify parking fines that are substantially more than the fines for more serious offences like speeding".

Last year the Local Government Association calculated councils made a £411m surplus from both on and off street parking in 2011-12, while the RAC Foundation said the figure was £565m.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said parking fines need to be proportionate and urged councils to be more transparent.

"Parking can be big business for councils with English local authorities making a profit of almost £600 million between them last year," he said.

What do you think? Should there be more flexibility for councils when penalising parking infringements?

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