Another Fine Mess

The City Hall of Granada is set to take less than half of the amount that they hoped to rake in through traffic fines; the 2011 budget had made provisions for an income of 14 million euros, whereas it ‘only’ saw 6.7m. Car users are obviously heartbroken that through their lack of solidarity the City Hall was seven million down, it goes without saying…

But the problem is not that drivers are not getting fined, but that they are not coughing up, either because they won’t/can’t or because the police have been unable to identify the offender. Yet it is not just not 2011 because this problem has been growing to such an extent that the books are down by 18.5m worth of traffic fines.

Each year the City Hall makes a less ambitious guess at how much it can roast car users so that in 2009 it budgeted 16.5m but received 6.7m and in 2010 it budgeted 15.9 and received a dreary 7.7m.

Without doubt, many would pay the fines within the stipulated period without incurring a surcharge, but if they haven’t been informed that they have been fined, they can’t. The City hall published the existence of no fewer than 12,000 fines in the Provincial Gazette (Boletín Oficial de Provincia) nobody outside a lawyer’s office bothers to read them, meaning that the first news that the offender has of the existence of the fine is when his bank account in embargoed. Yet the B.O.P. is the only way that a town hall can legally declare the offender as notified when all else fails. Those 12,000 fines, by the way, amount to a little over one million euros.

Only 22% of the fines levied in the city belong to city residents, meaning that 78% are habitual or one off visitors. Furthermore, the majority of the fines levied correspond to parts of the city with restricted vehicle access, which are controlled by CCTV, so if you’re not from the city and don’t know about these restricted areas, you’re blissfully unaware that you have incurred a fine, which is the case for most foreign tourists, etc.

So, what do the opposition parties think about it? Nothing complimentary towards the governing party, obviously. The PSOE considers that the city has become a ‘fining trap.’ According to the opposition councillor, Baldomero Oliver, “Six years have passed in which the fines levied upon drivers has increased five fold, whilst the money received has tripled.” This is a strange comment considering the 2009 figure onwards, but he is taking into account every kind of fine available.

In Sr. Oliver’s opinion, cars are little more than mobile ‘piggy banks,’ pointing out that the deeper the crisis; the more fines levied. According to his figures, in 2006 the City Hall imposed 5m euros of fines, whereas last year the figure was 25m, even though only 7m was taken.

Editorial Comment: Although the socialist councillor claims that its all the conservatives fault, where Granada is concerned, the tables are no doubt turned where the socialist govern and where the same ‘extra income’ is squeezed to the limits.

Under Benavides’s last administration in Almuñécar, the budget section for income from fines went up from around 300,000 euros to 600,000 euros in one year, which is a pretty clear indication that the police had been instructed to go out and crucify drivers.

(News: Metropolitan Granada, Granada, Andalucia)

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