Almost 4,000 motorists have been caught out for not buying a parking ticket in council car parks in the last four years.

Figures revealed to the Leader via a Freedom of Information request have shown that 3,797 drivers have been penalised for failing to clearly display a pay and display ticket in a car park since Flintshire Council took over civil parking enforcement from North Wales Police in October 2013.

The data shows that almost half of those spotted flouting the tariffs were caught in the 12 months between April 2016 and March this year.

More than a quarter of a million pounds worth of penalty charge notices have been handed out to drivers failing to display tickets to date with fines amounting to £265,790 being dished out – each one worth £70.

This penalty is halved if paid within14 days. Following a review in policy in 2015, charges were introduced on a staggered basis at local authority managed car parks across the county in order to free up parking spaces in the town centre car parks for visitors and shoppers, rather than commuters and local businesses.

The aim of the policy was to support town centre businesses and the income from the car park contributes towards the cost of maintaining the car parks within the county.

Up until that point, charges were only present at a selection of sites in Mold, which is reflected in the figures that show between October 2013 and March 2014, only 182 drivers were found without a valid ticket.

In April 2014 to March 2015, a sharp increase was reported to 685 which jumped further to 798 for the 12 months to 2016.

This coincided with an increase in tariffs at Mold car parks as well as fees being valid at locations in Buckley, Holywell, Connah's Quay, Queensferry and Shotton.

Between April 2016 and March this year, where all sites including the Mold County Hall campus were fee payable, the number of drivers flouting the charges almost tripled with 1,852 cars found without a ticket. This represents 49 per cent of the total number of motorists ticketed in the last four years.

In the year to date, 280 penalty charge notices have already been issued.

Flintshire County Council’s chief officer for Streetscene and Transportation, Steve Jones, said: “It is a requirement, when using any Flintshire car park where charges have been introduced, to purchase and display a ticket. Penalty Charge Notices are issued to those who fail to display a valid ticket.

“The charge for not displaying a valid pay and display ticket is £50, payable within 28 days. This is reduced to £25 if paid within 14 days.

“The numbers have increased since 2013 as charges have been introduced in towns across the county with all income generated being used to manage and maintain the car parks.”