The likelihood of getting off a parking fine depends on which area of the country drivers get a ticket, with some councils approving as few as one in 10 challenges while others accept nearly every appeal.
On average just over a third (38 per cent) of initial driver challenges to on-street parking fines made to local authorities in England between January and October 2016 were successful, according to figures obtained by the Press Association through Freedom of Information requests.
But there was huge variation between councils, with Wigan Council accepting just under 50 per cent – that’s 1,864 out of 3,752 challenges. Runnymede, Surrey, backed just nine per cent of appeals while Basingstoke and Deane, Hampshire – just 30 miles away – approved 95 per cent.
The figures show that Runnymede received 1,011 challenges to parking fines in the requested period, with only 93 being accepted.
Staffordshire County Council also accepted challenges at a rate of around one in 10 (10.4 per cent).
By contrast, Basingstoke and Deane accepted 540 challenges out of 566 – a rate of more than 95 per cent.
Next highest were Waveney (Suffolk), South Tyneside and Swale (Kent) councils, who all accepted around seven in 10 appeals.
Regional variation was particularly noticeable in Berkshire – drivers in Slough (23 per cent) were nearly three times less likely to get off their ticket than in Bracknell Forest (64), a mere half an hour’s drive away.
Meanwhile in Medway, Kent, drivers were half as likely to have their fine cancelled, at a rate of 32 per cent, than in neighbouring Swale, where 71 per cent were accepted.
Mr Anker said: “We hear so many stories from motorists who are victims of overzealous parking wardens.
“Often the real problem is really poor, terrible signing. People are often completely bamboozled, can I park here or can I not?”
Mr Anker said that after having a challenge rejected by the council, around 50 per cent of drivers who make a further appeal to the independent Traffic Penalty Tribunal are successful.
He said: “I would encourage everyone who feels they are being harshly treated by their council to make an appeal to the independent arbitrator.”
The PA asked councils for the number of initial challenges to on-street parking fines they received from drivers between January and October 2016 and how many of those the council had deemed successful.
To ensure a fair comparison, the survey only covered the first challenge made by the driver and not any further action that was taken.
The 98 councils who responded to the request with sufficient data referred to this in different ways, for example as an “informal challenge” or “initial appeal”.
One Wigan resident who asked not to be named but successfully challenged a parking ticket urged other motorists to persevere with their objections.
She said: “I know bad parkers can cause anger and chaos but sometimes the parking enforcement officers just get it wrong and it is always worth putting forward your objections In my case the council listened favourably.