Motorists heading to the seaside this bank holiday weekend have been urged to exercise caution when it comes to parking. The calls come from car insurance firm Churchill, whose research concluded that almost 65,000 fines were issued last year in beachside car parks and on surrounding roads.

In total, Churchill estimates that parking companies and local authorities raked in a massive £2.5 million from fines in 2019. That means the average value of a parking fine at seaside car parks and roads stood at £38, accounting for tickets that were either unpaid or successfully appealed.

Last year also saw seaside councils issue a grand total of 1.7 million parking fines across all their car parking schemes, creating an estimated income of £67.9 million. August was the busiest month of the summer for parking enforcement, with 142,000 tickets issued.

Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council, on the south coast of England, saw the largest number of tickets issued, with 3,105 handed out. Second place went to East Riding of Yorkshire Council, which issued 2,858 fines, while Thanet District Council, which covers the Kentish seaside towns of Margate and Ramsgate, was a distant third in the table, with 1,979 tickets doled out to drivers.

Churchill says this coming bank holiday weekend could see British beaches welcome a daily average of 387,000 visitors, leaving parking spaces at a premium. With charges at some seafront car parks stretching to tens of pounds for a day’s parking, the company says 19 percent of the 2,000 UK adults it surveyed would risk a fine to get a good parking spot.

Woman using pay and display parking ticket machine

Nine percent of respondents said they would risk parking illegally in a quiet area, while a further six percent said they would take that chance if they had travelled a long way to get to the seaside. Another six percent said they thought parking illegally would be less risky because they believed the coronavirus pandemic would reduce the number of active traffic wardens. And another five percent admitted they would be more likely to park illegally if they saw many other motorists doing the same thing.

Women paying for parking at pay and display car park in Arundel West Sussex UK

But Jane Morgan, business manager at Churchill Car Insurance, said drivers should plan ahead to ensure they get a legal parking spot.

“Many people will have been disappointed to have plans cancelled or changed at the last minute this summer due to the pandemic,” she said. “With lockdown restrictions lifting and greater freedom on offer, people will be eager to take advantage of the many beautiful beaches closer to home.

“With limited parking spots available we would urge drivers to remain respectful of parking restrictions and to only park in allocated spaces. At busy times, it’s worth researching back up parking options in case a prime seafront spot isn’t available. In order to comply with social distancing measures, we would encourage people to consider less popular destinations as the well-known spots can get overcrowded.”

Man paying for parking on street using parking meter