THE LEADER of the town's highways has hit back at furious motoring chiefs' claims that local government is fleecing motorists.

Breakdown firm The AA accused councils nationwide of "wielding sledgehammers" and fleecing motorists with rampant ticketing.

A letter sent to transport secretary Chris Grayling called for government chiefs to introduce a new law to park the number of parking tickets a council can issue each month.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) can charge £50 or £70 for fines depending on the seriousness of the offence and offenders can pay half the amount if they stump up the cash within 14 days.

The latest official figures show RBC raked in between £822,950 and £1.1m from 35,200 parking fines in 2015/2016.

Statistics show parking wardens averagely slapped motorists nearly 3,000 tickets a month, more than 100 per day.

But Tony Page, RBC's lead member for transport, hit back at the AA's claims.

He said: "The council enforces parking restrictions and bus lanes to keep traffic moving and to keep public transport moving. That is absolutely essential in a busy town like Reading which has many competing demands for limited road space and limited scope to expand that road capacity.

“We are fortunate to have excellent and very popular local bus service relied upon by a great many residents.

"Reading also has a number of residents parking schemes across the town in place to help protect parking spaces for local residents. Residents who live in those areas would fully expect the Council to enforce those parking restrictions.

“Enforcement of parking and bus lane restrictions sits alongside the council’s approach of providing quick, reliable and easy public transport alternatives for people."

The AA launched a campaign called 'Caught in a Trap' to fight back against rampant ticketing and ensure first-time offenders in bus lanes and yellow box junctions receive a warning letter instead of a fine.

The campaign also calls for residents to no longer be taxed for parking outside their homes.

Edmund King, president of The AA, said: "What is clear is that some councils enforced their summer car parking with a light touch, while others used a sledgehammer. Here lie the absolute fundamentals of our campaign: the need to restore the balance between enforcement and deterrence, and the need for targeted fines that direct driver behaviour - not punish every single little mistake because it is a nice little earner for councils and private companies."