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Qatari drivers near pole position in ranking of London parking offenders

Vehicles from Qatar racked up a staggering £191,105 ($256,578) in parking fines in Westminster between April 2016 and March 2017. (AN photo)
LONDON: A visit to the UK capital means a fine day out for Qatari tourists — in more ways than one.
Drivers from the Gulf state were on Tuesday ranked second on a list of the most prolific parking offenders in the popular Westminster area.
The London borough is home to such famous sights as Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament. But now you can add illegally parked Qatari supercars to that list.
Vehicles from the country racked up a staggering £191,105 ($256,578) in parking fines in Westminster between April 2016 and March 2017, according to figures released by the London council.
The council said that most of these fines go unpaid, although it could not give an exact figure.
Qatari drivers are parked just behind those from the UK’s near-neighbor France, which ranked top of the list, with fines worth an eye-watering £356,000.
Aside from European countries, the top 10 was dominated by Gulf states, with more Middle Eastern countries in the top 10 than ever before.
Supercars from across the region are now familiar sights across central London as Gulf tourists escape the heat and come to the UK capital for the summer with their four-wheeled status symbols in tow — with many attracting the attention of both passersby and parking inspectors.
The parking-fine figures are for a period before the June 5 move by the Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — to impose a series of sanctions on Doha over the latter’s alleged support of terror groups.
The quartet views the move as a “boycott” — although Doha interprets it more harshly, as a “blockade” against it.
Despite the claim by Doha, supercars with Qatari plates were still visible on the streets of central London over summer, and spending on Qatar-registered credit and debit cards rose in June, according to payments processing company Worldpay.
The UAE ranked third in the ranking of parking offenders in Westminster, with a total bill of £116,030. Saudi Arabia made it into the top 10 for the first time, pulling up in eighth place with drivers attracting fines worth £64,065; Kuwait was a spot back with £55,530 worth of parking tickets.
Danny Chalkley, a Westminster City councilor and Cabinet member dealing with highways, stressed the need for visitors to London to remember that being on holiday does not exempt them from the normal rules of the capital’s roads.
“We gladly welcome visitors from abroad who wish to visit our iconic roads and landmarks,” he said.
“However, drivers who park irresponsibly are a nuisance for our residents and visitors alike. This should be a reminder that a foreign number plate does not give you immunity from the law.
“We are committed to ensuring those who break the rules are forced to pay up.”
While parking illegally is nothing to shout out about, those Gulf drivers who are incurring the wrath of London’s parking attendants are at least polite, according to one traffic warden Arab News spoke to.
“When I dish them out with parking fines they never complain, they just accept it with a smile, they usually have a load of friends with them and they probably don’t want to cause a fuss in front of them,” one parking attendant, who declined to be named due to company policy, said.
The council has called on the UK government to establish an international system which allows local authorities to trace foreign motorists.

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