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Evening Press uncovers 'stealth tax' on motorists

The Evening Press in York has revealed how a local council is making up £20,000 a day from parking charges and tickets, after conducting an investigation using the Freedom of Information Act.

The paper uncovered the “stealth tax” on motorists in the pedestrian city of York as part of its Stop the Highway Robbery campaign.

And City of York Council chiefs have admitted that without the cash it would be forced to hike council tax bills by seven per cent a year.

Evening Press reporter Steve Carroll discovered that from 2001 to 2005 the number of parking tickets slapped on windscreens in the city had risen from 10,000 to 28,500.

And he revealed that revenue from motorists had now soared to £7.5m a year – a sum which has now been branded a “stealth tax” by furious protesters.

The investigation, which resulted in a splash and spread, is the third front page in as many months the Evening Press has obtained through using the Freedom of Information Act – also uncovering the true number of sex offenders living in North Yorkshire, and that motorists in the county were shelling out £1,000 a day in speeding fines.

The Evening Press has set up a FOI task-group which meets fortnightly to discuss investigations – currently it has another 17 such exposes pending.

Editor Kevin Booth said: “FOI is providing great opportunities for newspapers to dig beneath the surface on stories where previously we would have been stone-walled by red-tape and bureaucracy.”