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Fine by me

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February 2, 2010
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Nestling high in the Pyrenees, the sleepy town of Puigcerdà lies just on the Spanish side of the mountainous border with France. The locals, though, will tell you they are Catalonian, and this spirit of independence has recently led the town government to make an interesting decision.

In this country we often moan that the fines and taxes we are asked to pay do not get re-invested in the road network, but the Catalans have come up with an altogether different use for the money they have raised from parking and traffic fines in the town.

“People have the perception that the fines are only to collect, and we want to prove with facts in the case of Puigcerdà this is not so.” claims mayor Joan Planella, “The idea we came up to us when we asked ourselves what we could do to boost civic engagement.”

So what is their brainwave? Simple the haul of fines will be divided up equally between all the local drivers who have managed to avoid being caught doing something they shouldn’t. It does not look like this bonanza will be rivalling the famous ‘El Gordo’ lottery, though, as estimates suggest only a tenner or so per exemplary resident.

Even so, this is possibly the first time motor laws have attempted to use a carrot as well as a stick, and it will be worth seeing how this works out in the years to come.

But I don’t hold out much hope for this Spanish driver getting his cash …

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