Crazy road signs, parking companies, parking fines and road sign terrorism

Perhaps Sandfjärdsgatan in the Årsta district of Stockholm is the weirdest road when it comes to road sign terrorism in Sweden.

Sandfjärdsgatan in the Årsta district in Stockholm is a symbol of road sign terrorism in Sweden. The parking signs are more dense than any other place that I know of and despite contacts with the responsible local politician, nothing is done. Naturally, the parking companies take advantage of the situation.

Check out this video and you'll see what I mean.

What makes me angry

In the days before Christmas Eve 2010, I received an incorrect fine from Stockholm municipality of SEK 900 on my car. Unfortunately, the parking companies make mistakes and they use debt collection companies to collect their money. On the video, it is clear that the fine is wrong and that a disabled car has been placed in the disabled spot. In principle, I have nothing against disabled people, but in a stretch of 150 meters, a total of 18 meters are set aside specifically for disabled parking. At the same time, at the back of the house there is a special disabled parking where the disabled car can be parked for a maximum of 4 hours. Why not give everyone with a disability a leased parking permit and allow everyone to park along the street?

At the beginning of the street, there are some tricky road signs, while according to the traffic control company it should be counted as a three-way intersection. There is a sign prohibiting parking due to garbage collection and a sign along a large part of the street to leave snow there, which is hardly done because there is a statue there. In addition, that snow site is hardly needed because all the snow in southern Stockholm is dumped on Årstafältet 300 meters away.

The question is whether the parking company deliberately fines incorrectly. It would be interesting to know if the parking attendant has worked on a commission basis and which company fined my car. Unfortunately, I can't see it on my little yellow p-bot, but afterwards I was told that it is the Swedish Security Service that takes care of southern Stockholm, while Securitas takes care of northern Stockholm. The municipality decided this after a procurement that took place in 2007. The parking company only works and is paid by the hour at the Swedish Security Service.

Who benefits from parking fees?

The ones who make money from the road sign terrorism are the housing companies and the parking companies.  Between 2007 and 2009, parking fines on municipal land increased by 25% and of this increase in parking fines, Stockholm accounted for 90%. The municipalities collected a total of SEK 1.7 billion from the error parks. Since there are 18 high-rise buildings along the street, the number of parking spaces is not in relation to demand, which Familjebostäder solves by setting up several private parking spaces that can be rented. Parallel to Sandfjärdsgatan is the old Stockholmsvägen, which is now not used, and letting it become parking spaces is perhaps too simple an equation for the pea brains in the district administration. The fine itself comes from the municipality, i.e. the district administration in Årsta, but it is issued by the private company.

The municipal housing company Familjebostäder naturally makes money from people who get tired of the parking fee madness and buy themselves a rented parking space for SEK 5,600 per year - i.e. the right to park their car on a public patio that should be free. Unfortunately many people I have spoken to pay after being harassed by the parking companies. It's cheaper in the long run for most people….

How do the parking companies win their land contracts?

It would be interesting to follow how the parking companies won their contracts and how the various procurements of land contracts went. Because the Public Procurement Act has been followed, right?
But who can believe that irregularities are taking place when their industry organization has written in their ethical rules that "You should not enter into agreements with landowners that mean you have to be unethical in order to make a profit. "The cynic in me thinks it is strange that a trade organization has such a clause and I can see why some competitors come forward with such a clause. When you read Parking Network, it is clear that parking contracts are not about a few pennies and small entrepreneurial companies but multi-million business where the municipal procurements connect the land contracts with larger construction works etc.

Tax-funded parking lot terrorism

In Sweden, we have an extreme infrastructure for handling parking fines. Unfortunately, a large part of this bureaucracy is tax-financed. It is not only the local police authority but also the traffic police unit that handles the case itself, which takes resources from the police. Although the police are not in charge of the payments, the Swedish Transport Agency is.

The Swedish Transport Agency with its 1,600 employees receives the money from the parking fine. The administration of incorrect parking fees counts them as task-financed activities according to their annual report. For this they only get 15 million and they have almost 11 million in costs which makes them make a profit of 4,394,000 for this business. When they report against the income title, however, the collection of wrong parking fees is SEK 53,021,000. which sounds quite modest and not exactly like a large sum for parking lots.

Since the money is not enough for the Swedish Transport Agency, they also receive 33% in grants in addition to all the fees they have invented and push in from air, sea and road traffic. Unfortunately, it is not clear who the client is, but I assume it is the municipalities, or is it the state? Local traffic regulations for those who live in a certain area are tested by the municipality, but the organization is quite diffuse and even the county administrative board is involved in deciding on road signs.

Who is really making money from the parking lots?

The parking industry is a billion dollar industry in Sweden. A large part of p-bot's operations in Sweden is outsourced to private companies, such as Q-park, Swedish Security Service and Easypark. The parking companies are often organized in complicated groups where they also run collection companies. Group contributions are an opportunity for group companies to equalize profits and losses between companies. Group contributions can be used for tax planning and are usually tax deductible for the donor and taxable for the recipient. I suppose it is possible to transfer internal costs such as computer systems and similar intangible assets so that the tax authority gets less money to collect.

Methods that the parking companies are accused of (metro 2012-02-20) are manipulated images. veiled threats and false evidence. Several of the companies have collection companies where subsidiary Hojab (Handels- & Jurist Inkasso) is one of the largest. The company is part of Svea collection.

Q-park – What kind of filures are they anyway?

According to their website, the international Q-park group had a gigantic turnover of 601 million Euros in 2009. In 2006, the company established itself in Sweden by buying Carpark and they quickly started buying so-called parking facilities.

The Swedish company Q-Park AB, which has its headquarters a stone's throw from Årsta, had a turnover of SEK 820,370,000 in 2009 and they had assets worth SEK 1,293,289,000 with 439 employees. Q-park AB is the parent company of Q-Park surveillance, which has its visiting address in Årsta. Årsta thus seems to be the Mecca of P-bot companies.

The parent company of Q-Park in turn is called CP Group AB (Formerly Carpark), which during the last three accounting years had zero kroner in sales but showed a total loss of 101 million. CP Group AB's parent company in turn is called Q-park Scandinavia AB and this company too has zero kroner in sales during the last three accounting years but showed losses of a total of 231 million kroner.

Neither CP-Group nor Q-Park Scandinavia had any turnover or any employees. A question I ask myself is how it is that CP Group and Q-Park Scandinavia are operating at a loss year after year. Of course, no normal business manager would allow it if the purpose is not for tax reasons and to reduce tax. I wonder if the companies within Q-park have internal invoicing between the different countries' companies?

Swedish surveillance service - What kind of scams are these?

When you look at about the contact area for southern Stockholm, you are referred to Svensk Bevakningstjänst AB because the politicians want to stay out of the parking jungle.

So you have to send an error report to felanmalan.parkering-sthlm@​ Svensk Bevakningstjänst AB is a company that in 2009 had 1,238 employees and a turnover of SEK 753 million. Although again they in turn have a parent company Axel Johnson Aktiebolag... which in turn has a turnover of just over 2 billion... which in turn has a parent company called Axel Johnson Holding which has a turnover of just over 20 billion...whose parent company is Bja Croonen BV which appears to be a Dutch finance company without a website.

Conclusion about the parking in Stockholm

I can think that the bureaucratic organization around the parking lot in Stockholm reminds a little of how the GDR was organized once upon a time. When you look at where the money goes, it seems to disappear straight into private companies abroad instead of going back to municipal operations. The police don't learn to look at procurement, corruption and internal invoicing, but it's easier to join the gigantic bureaucratic organization that handles parking matters.

The municipality's activities should be for the municipality's citizens. Therefore, it is better to abolish parking fees altogether in residential areas. It works in many small towns such as Borgholm and it works in small areas where you risk meeting your neighbours. The social control is probably the most effective parking monitoring. The outer city areas are areas where there is a social control system and therefore the parking surveillance that has been built up from the municipal and state side is not needed. The outer areas differ from the inner city where there are greater risks of traffic bottlenecks and where the same social control does not exist.


What then happened to my disputing the parking ticket?
On February 21st, I received a decision from the police stating that the payment responsibility for my fine was removed and the amount of the fine was returned. Apparently, the reported parking attendant does not uphold the issued report and therefore the police authority in this case has removed the liability for payment. The question is when I get my money, apparently the parking companies can appeal within three weeks from the day the appellant was informed of the decision. This means that the parking company can keep my money for a few more weeks and earn even more money from the interest. Because they do this on a large scale, it means a lot of money.

What can you do if you are affected?
You can always request photo evidence. According to the PUL (personal data act), the parking company is obliged to hand over photos taken.

The parking company threatens me with court - what should I do?
Many parking companies threaten with court. The parking company may not threaten with court until the parking fine has been collected.

What happened to my 900 kroner from the fine on December 22, 2010
Today, March 18, 2011, I called the Swedish Surveillance Service, which has issued the fine, what happens to my money that I have not received even though the police have given me the right. Then the woman at the company told me that they are not dealing with the fine at all, but that it is the traffic authority in Borlänge that I should contact to get the money back.

Thanks police and I guess you read my blog post!


Sources :
Sweden's Municipalities and County Councils 2010
Q-park's website and annual report

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