Grantham Journal column: I am struck by the level of some court fines

Courtney Finn
Courtney Finn
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Each week the Journal meticulously gives us the details of Grantham-area residents brought before magistrates in Lincoln.

The Grantham Magistrates’ Court was presumably thought to be underused... and was closed.

The people usually seem to plead guilty and admit their offences. I am struck by the level of some of the fines.

For using a vehicle without insurance can be £660 plus a victim surcharge and costs adding up to a further £115. In other cases, for what seems to be the same offence, the fine is £120 plus £115 costs and six penalty points in both cases on the driving licences. Presumably to drive without insurance might mean the defendant cannot afford the insurance premium or chooses to run the risk of driving without insurance. But why the difference in sentences?

Are these fines always paid, in full, and what happens if they are not? Is any enforcement action taken? There are many other offences admitted, involving stealing goods from shops, having restraining orders imposed because of violent or unacceptable behaviour, accepting housing benefit when not entitled and driving with excess alcohol.

The latter usually results in disqualification from driving. There is usually a fine imposed and again I wonder whether these get paid, because there does not appear to be any reports of further court action when fines are not paid.

There is often a very long gap between the commission of the offences and the court appearance, in some instances many months and no information is given as to why there appear to be huge delays in the judicial process.

Somebody, somewhere will know the answers to all these questions and it would be helpful if we could hear their comments? 
Please!

n The Royal Bank of Scotland continues to hit the headlines.

Lloyds Bank’s remaining shares in public ownership have finally sold but court proceedings of a different kind faced RBS in a potential £700m High Court law suit brought by 27,000 retail investors and institutions.

The investors allege that the 2008 Rights Issue contained “untrue or misleading” statements about RBS’s financial position. The bank denies the allegations and the action seems to have been settled out of court.

RBS was eventually bailed out for more than £45bn and remains 72 per cent owned by the tax payer. RBS has reached agreement with other investors and in the first quarter of 2017 made a profit of £259m.

What I cannot fathom is why, with so huge claims hanging over it, RBS continues to sponsor sporting events. Surely no one chooses to bank or invest with RBS because they put money into Formula One racing, The Open Golf tournament, the RBS 6 Nations rugby or the Royal Highland Show and even the Edinburgh Military Tattoo?

These sponsorships probably provide RBS with the opportunity to give selected high-worth customers a nice day out with free hospitality but I cannot think that any of the events sponsored would be harmed if “taxpayers’” funding was withdrawn.

As the headline asks: ‘Does it pay?’ For the taxpayers? I don’t think it does.

The latest news is that RBS is to pay the US Federal Housing Agency £3.65bn for the sale of risky mortgage products. Surely sponsorship should be low down on their list of priorities?