HIGHWAYS chief Cllr Harry Smith says Wirral is excluded from the list of local authorities accused of using parking enforcement measures as a “cash cow.”

It follows moves by the Department for Transport to consider legal options to abolish minimum rates for parking penalty charges to allow councils to lower fines for minor violations.

A recent House of Commons transport select committee report found “a deep-rooted perception that local authorities view parking enforcement as a cash cow.”

Councillor Smith responded: “The idea that Wirral Council is using parking enforcement as a cash cow does not hold water.

"Over the past three years, 3,000 fewer parking tickets have been issued and we do not hoard the cash collected, we re-invest it on road maintenance, traffic lights and the highway network.

“If parking fines were reduced we would take it on the chin and have less money to spend in these areas.”

He also challenged RAC claims that parking offences should be seen as “misdemeanours” not crimes.

He said: “If people are endangering lives by parking dangerously – such as outside schools – they deserve a parking ticket and I would expect parking attendants to act accordingly.”

Over the past four years, Wirral Council has seen a drop is cash collected on parking charges and penalties from £1.4m in 2009-10 to £851,000 in 2012-13.

Across the UK councils collect £1.4bn from parking tickets, permits and penalties.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin froze parking penalty charges in December for the remainder of the current Parliament.

He also published a public consultation on parking issues, including whether five minutes grace periods – already operated by some councils – should be made a statutory requirement.

Councillor Smith said Wirral’s parking attendants had already been instructed to use discretion over drivers returning “a couple of minutes late” to their vehicles.