Ealing Council Set to Start Fining Motorists for Idling

Opposition says changes not properly communicated to residents

Cllr Peter Mason and Cllr Deirdre Costigan launch the anti-idling campaign last September
Cllr Peter Mason and Cllr Deirdre Costigan launch the anti-idling campaign last September

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February 8, 2024

Drivers are being warned that the Ealing Council is preparing to ramp up its operations to stop idling cars, which includes those on school runs. The measures, which include an £80 on-the-spot fine which was introduced in October 2023, aim to discourage people from stopping their car with the engine still running in the borough.

While in some areas, this might come as welcome news, Ealing’s opposition group the Liberal Democrats have warned parents that even short stops outside schools to pick up kids could result in a fine. Ealing Labour has advised that they will be issuing an £80 fine for each idling offence, including around schools. A fine can only be issued if a driver first refuses a request by an enforcement officer to switch off their engine.

Despite the introduction of the fines taking place several months ago, drivers may have been lulled into a false sense of security as the council admits it has not yet issued one. However, this is likely to change soon warns the opposition which says it has been informed by the council that stricter enforcement of the rules is on the horizon.

Concern has been raised that this change has not been properly communicated to residents, who may not be aware that they could find themselves with an £80 penalty for simply being parked with their car engine on. There is an important reason why the charges have been introduced as the council explained when the fines were announced last year.

Idling is bad for a multitude of reasons including creating air pollution, using unnecessary fossil fuels and even the costs of idling can add up over time. If a typical vehicle idled for 10 minutes per day, within a 6-month period it could add up to around £60 in extra petrol costs.

Enforcement of the fines will likely be particularly stringent around schools as idling near playground gates has been a cause for concern for many councils for a number of years. In particular, multiple cars all idling around home time could have detrimental health effects on young children due to daily exposure to high levels of air pollution.

Air pollution has led to around 160 people dying prematurely in the borough every year, according to the council. At the time of the announcement, Council Leader Peter Mason said, “Leaving car engines running unnecessarily pollutes the air we all breathe, adds to the climate crisis and causes asthma and other lung and heart conditions in both children and adults.

“Air pollution in our borough is avoidable and all it takes is switching off your engine when your car isn’t moving whenever you can. It makes a huge difference to the air quality.”

Councillor Gary Malcolm, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition, said, “These idling fines will hit hard pressed residents in their pockets, a double whammy as Ealing Labour are likely to be raising council tax in the coming months, despite receiving extra funds from central government. We are concerned that Ealing Council have not made residents aware of the upcoming changes and we are side by side with residents in these difficult times.”

A council’s spokesperson said, “Ealing Council is committed to reducing air pollution and in October we kept our promise to ramp up fines for idling to the maximum allowed by law, introducing a new £80 fine. Since then we have installed new anti-idling signs, warning of our zero tolerance approach at all entrances to the borough.

“The law only allows us to fine motorists if they refuse to turn off their engine after our enforcement officers asked them to do so. Since October we've asked 78 motorists to turn off their engine and all have complied, showing the effectiveness of the work we are doing."

Rory Bennett - Local Democracy Reporter

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