Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Chris Mullin MP (Sunderland South)
3 The Esplanade
19th December 2005
Parliamentary Questions for Chris Mullin MP (Sunderland South)
1) To ask the Secretary of State for Transport:
‘What is the procedure is for revoking a Decriminalised Parking Enforcement Special Parking Area / Permitted Parking Area Order and what criteria or evidence would be required for the Secretary of State for Transport to initiate such a revocation?’
2) To ask the Secretary of State for Transport:
‘What procedures are in place at the Department for to check the accuracy of statements made by a Local Authority within a Decriminalised Parking Enforcement application to the Department for Transport?’
3) To ask the Secretary of State for Transport:
‘Who is responsible for checking the claims of a local authority in their Decriminalised Parking Enforcement application that their signs, lines and Traffic Regulation Orders are correct and in force before the commencement of Decriminalised Parking Enforcement?’
4) To ask the Secretary of State for Transport:
‘If it is the case, and can be shown to be the case, that the Secretary of State for Transport has been misinformed and/or misled into granting a Special Parking Area / Permitted Parking Area Order, what provision is there for reimbursing motorists wrongly levied with fines and what provision is there to provide compensation for motorists who have suffered losses at the hands of bailiffs?’
5) To ask the Secretary of State for Transport:
‘What action, and by whom, could be taken against a Local Authority or Council Officers, should it be proven that they:-
(i) Submitted a Decriminalised Parking Enforcement application to the Department for Transport knowing that the enforcement regime would not or could not be in force legally because at the time DPE was due to commence there were numerous errors with regard to on-street signage and incorrect Traffic Regulation Orders?
(ii)Submitted a Decriminalised Parking Enforcement application to the Department for Transport but due to incompetence were unaware that there were numerous on-street signage errors and incorrect Traffic Regulation Orders?
6) To ask the Secretary of State for Transport:
‘What action, and by whom, could be taken against a Local Authority or Council Officers, should it be proven that they are continuing to allow Penalty Charge Notices to be issued knowing that aspects of the Decriminalised Parking Enforcement regime are unlawful?’
7) To ask the Secretary of State for Transport:
‘What are the financial and audit implications for a Local Authority found to have been issuing Penalty Charge Notices without the correct lawful authority and deriving income from unlawfully issued Penalty Charge Notices?’
8) To ask the Secretary of State for Transport:
‘Could he please advise as to his view of the current status of the Declaration and Bill of Rights insomuch as the1991 Road Traffic Act appears to be unlawful and fails to expressly repeal, and therefore conflicts with the provisions of the Constitution.’
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Tuesday 20th December, 05
SHAME on Wear Valley District Council for surrendering to the campaign of Neil Herron and Jim Tague to prevent the EU flag flying at the council offices (Echo, Dec 14).
Just as we live in England so we live in the EU - why shouldn't the flags of the two territorial entities fly side by side?
And Neil Herron has an almighty cheek in praising the council for not succumbing to "political pressure" to fly the EU flag.
How exactly does that differ from the pressure that he and his ragtag and bobtail army of Europhobes have applied to the council? He also claims that as a result of his action, Wear Valley's aspiration to become the best district council in England has taken "a massive leap forward".
Perhaps he could let us know how this whole narrow-minded and jingoistic episode has advanced that cause even one iota?
- Robin Brooks, Barningham, North Yorkshire.
Monday, December 19, 2005
16th December 2005
Employees at the Pizza Hut restaurant at Gunness are backing a fight by their bosses against a European Union ruling.
Currently, the staff offer customers a variety of pizzas in sizes ranging from six inches to the New Yorker, which is their largest pizza at 16 inches. But from 2009, the restaurant chain has been told it must start selling the grub in centimetres.
Spokesman Darrell Wade said: "Pizza stores across the UK are increasingly adopting metric sizes on their menus, but the trend has left many customers confused when ordering.
"Following previous EU directives, Pizza Hut considered phasing in the use of metres and centimetres across its 665 stores, beginning with the launch of its biggest ever pizza - the 16-inch Big New Yorker - on December 1.
"At Pizza Hut, size is important, and we are proud of our inches."
Shane Bryan, manager of the Pizza Hut restaurant on Doncaster Road, said: "I have always known pizzas to be measured in inches.
"Even if we have to change to centimetres, we would still refer to inches in some way on the menu, because it is what people understand and associate with pizzas.
"There would be a need to re-educate people if changing from centimetres to inches, because inches are used in other aspects of society as well, and people are familiar with the use of inches."
Antony Devita, from Antinino's Restaurant on Scunthorpe High Street, said: "I think only Italians should sell pizza. I don't care if they are sold in centimetres or inches, it doesn't matter to me.
"I haven't heard about this new ruling, so it doesn't bother me. I just think the bigger the pizza, the better."
The British Weights and Measures Association is backing the stance taken by Pizza Hut.
A spokesman said: "It's important we retain the imperial system in our everyday lives, whether it's a pint down the pub or a 16-inch pizza."
Friday, December 16, 2005
Kafen is a well established coffee shop in Frederick Street in Sunderland. Access was denied to the rear of their shop and as they are opening on an evening now as Sunderland's first Tapas Bar they were forced to unload all the new stock at the front of their shop. The NCP tag team ignored the fact that unloading was taking place and ticketed the vehicle.
What is more sinister in all of this is the fact that NCP officials and its Chief Exceutive, Bob Macnaughton, are fully aware that Sunderland City Council does not have the correct Traffic Regulation Orders or signage for this street, and hundreds of other locations in the City, but they still continue to issue Penalty Charge Notices and the Council continues to accept money from motorists unaware of the massive legal flaws in Sunderland's Decriminalised Parking Enforcement regime.
As the Chief Executive of a company which was recently bought for £555million by 3i Investment Group Bob Macnaughton and his Sunderland Manager, Kelvin Gilderoy's excuse that 'we are only doing what the Council tell us to do' is not going to stand up in court when the prosecutions begin.
They have a corporate responsibility to check that they have lawful authority to issue and in the case of Sunderland there is ample evidence to show what a shambles the whole system is.
As for the case of Kafen's Phil Jones and his ticket...we have prepared his appeal...we have just received details of another vehicle which had been parked in exactly the same location (Neil Herron has 20 at the same location and Sunderland refuse to allow him to go to NPAS).
13th December 2005
Watson v City of Sunderland
Case No. SX 251
Mr Watson used the same defence as Neil Herron and the letter from NPAS states
'The Council have decided not to contest your appeal.
The Adjudicator has directed the Council to cancel your liability for those Penalty Charges.'
So there you have it. If you take on the Council then they back off as they know that they have no legal authority to issue tickets yet they still continue to ticket unsuspecting motorists. There is a Freedom of Information request in to the Council to establish how many other tickets have been issued in the street and why there has been no notice to NCP to desist from issuing.
It looks like fraud to me. Within a short space of time this will become a Police matter.
This case is the one that proves that Sunderland have no evidence to offer. It is in the same location where I have had the majority of my PCNs
Over £100,000 worth of revenue has been collected in the same location from unsuspecting drivers who are not aware that Sunderland has no legislative authority to demand money from them.
Friday, December 16, 2005
A bitter political row reached boling point last night as a local authority defiantly flew the European Union flag outside its
headquarters despite stiff criticism from anti-Euro campaigners.
The EU Ring of Stars was flying in front of Wear Valley District Council offices in Crook, County Durham yesterday after councillors voted to reinstate it as soon as possible.
It is another twist in a row which started in September when the authority was forced to remove the flag by campaigners who revealed it did not have planning permission.
Since then, the council has applied for and, granted itself permission and, at a full council meeting on Wednesday, decided to reinstate the symbol, despite claims by The People's No Campaign that council officers assured them that it would only be flown on one day a year - Europe Day on May 9.
Neil Herron, from the No Campaign, said: "This is absolutely staggering arrogance by a local authority to continue to promote the EU project using ratepayers money.
"They haven't taken the advice of council officers. They have been told they cannot use taxpayers' money to promote this political project.
"To pass a motion to take down their own flag and replace it with that of the EU beggars belief."
Deputy leader of the council Councillor Charlie Kay said the flag was being flown to celebrate the election of fellow district councillor Chris Foote Wood on to the European Union's Committee of the Regions.
He will join former council leader Olive Brown, who is already on the committee.
Coun Kay said: "It is a fantastic honour for Wear Valley District Council, which is a small authority, to have two representatives on this committee.
"There was a lot of strong feeling at the meeting. Britain is a member of the European Union and it is our right to fly the flag".
He said that he did not know how long the flag would be flown alongside the Union flag and the Cross of St George but it would probably be there for the foreseeable future.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
by Zoe Hughes
Neil Herron's campaign over parking charges has come on a long way since revealing Sunderland Council had wrongly handed out £30,000 worth of fines it did not have orders to enforce.
In fact it has come on such a long way that the "metric martyr" is now a figure of dread for any unwary traffic warden of council official patrolling the streets of the city. Mention of his name sends shivers down the back of any trainee attendant, and calls to supervisors are met with a simple groan on the other end of the walkie-talkie. Indeed it seems traffic wardens are taking to their heels and scampering for the hills at the first sign of Mr Herron demanding a ticket. "Its just not on," Mr Herron explained. "They're just running away from me." We couldnt think why.
Wednesday, December 13, 2005
by Jeremy Wicking
A probe into staff shortages at the civic centre and how they could be affecting public services is being ordered by city councillors.
Fears are growing that too many key jobs at Sunderland Council are not being taken up and councillors are to grill senior officers about the shortages.
There are worries that unfilled vacancies, especially in key areas such as roads and planning, are beginning to have an impact on the public.
Officers have already said that the council's road safety education programme has slipped because of a lack of trained staff.
In planning, there are shortages and in September it was revealed that 30 vacancies in the department had been unfilled for more than three months. There were also gaps in social services staffing.
The council has, including teachers, 14,500 staff and Coun John Donnelly, chairman of the policy and co-ordination review committee, said that the worry
was that if the level of vacancies was high then it would hit council tax payers.
He and the committee will quiz department chiefs at a meeting on Thursday.
Coun Donnelly said: "There are vacancies in planning and engineering. We have to know the reasons why and whether these and other vacancies are affecting the delivery of services and, if so, what we can do about it.
"The decriminalised parking issue is taking up a lot of staff to correct the mistakes and, I believe, that it is affecting work in that department.
"Obviously, that work will cease in time but it has had an affect."
Coun Donnelly said that he did not believe it was a problem attracting staff to Sunderland or even the council itself as there had recently been a string of top appointments.
Conservative opposition leader Coun Peter Wood said: "We know there are shortages in planning and highways and this is not just Sunderland's problem.
"More pay alone will not solve this problem as there doesn't seem to be enough new planners coming through from university courses.
"As I understand it, there has even been a 100 per cent turnover of staff in the council's highways department over the last four years. I think we are all looking forward to this meeting to hear more about the shortages and what affect they are having,"
Parking campaigner Neil Herron, who has questioned the legality of the city council's whole parking regime, said: "If the parking system was correct in the first place, then none of this would have happened and, if officers are spending a lot of time on this work, it begs the question of the competence of the senior officers who were overseeing the whole parking regime."
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
by Dan King
Political campaigners were hailing a victory for patriotism last night after a council decided against reinstating a European Union flag in place of the Cross of St George.
In September, Wear Valley District Council removed the EU flag outside its offices in Crook, County Durham, after it was revealed that it did not have planning permission to fly it.
It was replaced by England's national flag. But the council applied for - and granted itself - a licence to hoist the EU flag.
However, yesterday morning the council's director of housing, Michael Laing, and freedom of information officer Lawrence Serewicz met anti-Europe crusaders Jim Tague and Neil Herron, who have campaigned against the flag.
They decided that the EU flag would not be hoisted and the St George flag would continue to fly alongside the Union flag and the Wear Valley District Council flag.
It was agreed that the EU flag would be flown only one day a year - Europe Day on May 9.
Mr Herron praised Mr Laing for standing up to political pressure to fly the EU flag, and said that it was a victory that would have implications for other councils.
He said: "Wear Valley District Council's aspiration to become the best district council in England has taken a massive leap forward by continuing to fly the cross of St George and abandon the flying of the EU flag."
13th December 05
Rochdale MP Paul Rowen is demanding that Rochdale Council look into their policy of issuing parking tickets to disabled people who park in loading bays. Paul said, "I am concerned that Rochdale Council may be not acting legally by issuing tickets in this way. I have received information that there is NO LEGISLATION that allows Parking Attendants to give tickets to disabled badge holders who have parked in loading bays, whilst correctly displaying their badges. The only people who can move them are the police, but only if they are causing an obstruction."
This issue has arisen from the Council's controversial policy to change disabled parking bays on Yorkshire Street into loading bays.
Paul has submitted two questions to the Department of Transport;
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what powers parking attendants have to issue Penalty Charge Notices to Disabled Person's Badge holders who have parked in Loading Bays?
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what advice he has issued to local authorities regarding Disabled Person's Badge holders parking in Loading Bays?
Paul expects these questions to be answered on Thursday. He said, "I have also written to Roger Ellis, the Chief Executive of Rochdale Council asking him to investigate this as a matter of urgency. If I am proved correct it is simply unacceptable and the Council should look at refunding all the tickets that they have illegally issued."
14 December, 05
COUNCIL bosses have caved in to pressure and say an independent review of parking charges should go ahead after they were forced to refund thousands of pounds-worth of wrongly collected fines.
Metric Martyr Neil Herron, who has been picking holes in the city's parking rules since the false fines first came to light, said he was delighted Sunderland Council's Chief Executive Ged Fitzgerald had called for an independent review of parking.
He was speaking out as the council's traffic boss told councillors serious "errors" on parking rules and regulations should all be put right by the end of this month.Council officers have been re-drafting and checking rules across the city after campaigners said it was all illegal.
Top barristers, though, say there was nothing "unlawful" about the council taking parking fines under their control – a process called decriminalisation.
The council admitted in August it was going to hand out hundreds of refunds to people who were fined for parking in taxi bays because the right rules had not been followed.
A similar admission that disabled drivers who were fined for parking in loading bays was also made.
Phil Barrett, the council's chief roads and planning officer, told the city's environment and community services panel: "There have been changes made to the decriminalised regime and we have held our hands up and said that we have made some errors. Unfortunately, some of the work that should have been done in the run-up to the decriminalised parking scheme to make it more consistent was not done."We are putting in new orders and we should have them in place by the end of the year."
Refunds, estimated at about £34,000, were less than one per cent of the parking fines collected by the council, said Mr Barrett.
Councillors on the planning and highways committee are examining objections to the new suggested parking orders next week.
Work on refunds was continuing and Mr Barrett was asked by Coun Ross Wares if drivers were given an apology, as well as getting £30 back.
Mr Barrett said council letters did "express regret" and added: "We make it quite clear that we have made a mistake and regret the inconvenience that they have been put through."
Mr Herron added: "As I said in the first instance, there needs to be an independent investigation into all this and how Sunderland came to take money off people unlawfully."
He disagreed with Mr Barrett and said: "If everything is not in place until the end of the year, how can it all have been lawful in the first place? There are 60,000 people entitled to parking refunds from the city council and this is just the tip of the iceberg."Mr Herron has been advising other campaigners about their local parking rules, including the London Motorists' Action Group.
13 December 05
A SUPER Newcastle should be given millions of pounds to oversee housing, transport and economic development in the region says a think-tank.
The radical suggestion is being seen as a possible "backdoor" regional assembly but has reportedly been welcomed by local government minister and South Shields MP David Miliband.
He has been exploring new ways of raising the economic profile of the North East and closing the wealth gap between the region and the South East.
The ideas come after the decisive rejection of the regional assembly idea last year.The New Local Government Network (NLGN) thinks millions of pounds of Government money should go to the North East through what is known as the "city region" and the "obvious" choice for the North East is Newcastle.
It has fuelled suspicions Sunderland and Durham could be marginalised if the changes gather pace.
Neil Herron, who campaigned against the regional assembly as North East Against Regional Assemblies (NEARA) and the People's No Campaign, said: "I think we'll have to wait and see if this is a pseudo-assembly but the European Union wants city regions which makes it easier for funds to be channelled into an area and that weakens UK government. It could be a 'backdoor' for a regional assembly with big city structures in the North East – Tyneside and Teesside – alienating less vocal parts of the region."
"Instead of centring more power on Tyneside, local authorities should be co-operating more closely."
Authors of the NLGN report said: "Unlike existing local authorities, city regions would bring scale and more readily identifiable presence.
"The NGLN urges the more natural city regions of England to be brave and blaze a trail, to set aside existing vested interests and to demand a louder voice for their wider community."
Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham are seen as "obvious" city regions with Newcastle-Gateshead, Bristol and Sheffield also contenders.
The report suggests, too, that cash earmarked for ONE NorthEast, the regional development body, should go through the "city region".
Because the system of councils in the North East would stay the same, suggests the NLGN report, there woud be no need for a referendum before powers are handed over.
Leader of Sunderland City Council Bob Symonds, who sits on the One NorthEast board, said: "As far as I'm concerned it's only a report and the NLGN has come up with ideas in the past, such as elected city mayors, that have not exactly been a great success."
If the report comes into the public arena we will deal with it then. Sunderland already has an exceptioanl record of economic development that is second to none and puts us ahead of anywhere else in the North East."
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
13th December 2005
The People's No Campaign
" Cross of St. George Flag Victory...
Council concedes defeat and the EU Flag will not be flown."
Another victory for The People's No Campaign and a victory for England. A victory that will have implications for all other Local Authorities across the country who are flying the EU Flag unlawfully.
Wear Valley District Council has succumbed to people pressure and abandoned its attempt to replace the Cross of St. George with the EU Flag.
The row, which erupted in September surrounded the flying of the EU Flag by Wear Valley District Council. Campaigners Neil Herron and Jim Tague successfully forced the District Council to remove of the EU 'Ring of Stars' as it is classed as 'an outdoor advertisement' and not the flag of a nation state and therefore needs planning consent. It was also argued that to fly the EU Flag was using public money to promote a political project which falls foul of local authority guidelines.
The Cross of St. George was proudly erected outside the Civic Offices replacing the EU Flag.
However, Wear Valley DC then applied to itself for planning permission to fly the EU Flag and this permission was granted with a unanimous decision by elected councillors present at the planning committee.
One must question the political motives behind the desire to fly the EU Flag, but members of the Labour controlled council include Olive Brown. the North East's alternate member on the EU's Committee of the Regions.
A meeting was convened for Tuesday 13th December between Director of Housing, Michael Laing, the Council Officer responsible, Freedom of Information Officer, Lawrence Serewicz and Jim Tague and Neil Herron where a number of questions, proposals and an ultimatum were put to the officers.
Mindful of the massive national publicity and furore surrounding the attempted removal of the Cross of St. George it was decided that the EU Flag would not be flown and the Cross of St. George would continue to fly alongside the Union Flag and the Wear Valley District Council flag.
The campaigners agreed to this and allowed the concession that the EU Flag could be flown on one day...May 9th, classed as 'Europe Day.'
Neil Herron, Campaign Director states, " I must commend Council Officer, Michael Laing, for correctly standing up to political pressure. Local authority guidelines prevent the use of public money to promote political projects or influence the public to hold a political opinion. Wear Valley District Council's aspiration to become the best District Council in England has taken a massive leap forward by continuing to fly the Cross of St. George and abandon the flying of the EU Flag. Let us hope that many others follow the lead and put people before politics and patriotism before political correctness."
Jim Tague, Wear Valley Co-ordinator states, "This is a victory for people power and a victory for common sense. In such politically correct times this is an extremely brave decision by an officer of Wear Valley District Council to give the English flag such prominence. It will now only be removed on the instructions of politicians with an obvious pro-EU agenda. Councils across the rest of the country will hopefully follow this lead.I look forward to my Council becoming the best District Council in England."
Michael Laing did comment that should the flag disappear unannounced it may be due to the fact that he has agreed to take it home from time to time to wash it! Most certainly this goes well beyond the call of duty and must be commended.
0191 565 7143
Notes for Editors:
The People's No Campaign is a growing 'umbrella' campaign group opposed to all forms of unacceptable and unaccountable governance.
More can be seen at http://www.thepeoplesnocampaign.co.uk/
The People's No Campaign has grown out of the Metric Martyrs and the North East No Campaign (massively defeated Prescott in last year's elected assembly referendum).
The group also created the No Campaign against the European Constitution.
Neil Herron along with Steven Thoburn were European Campaigners of the Year in 2001 with the Metric Martyrs Campaign beating Head of the European Central Bank, Wim Duisenberg, and his launch of the Euro Notes and Coins.
More recent successes include the exposing of unlawful decriminalised parking regimes forcing the repayment of tens of thousands of pounds taken unlawfully from motorists.
Recent Press Reports:
Can this really be the end for the St. George Flag?
Ring of Stars Equal to Union Jack?
Monday, December 12, 2005
Committee on the Office of
the Deputy Prime Minister:
Session 2005-06 7 December 2005
IS THERE A FUTURE FOR REGIONAL GOVERNMENT?
In the light of the ‘no’ vote in the North East devolution referendum on 4 November 2004, the Committee has decided to examine issues relating to regional government, including:
• the potential for increasing the accountability of decision-making at the regional and sub-regional level, and the need to simplify existing arrangements;
• the potential for devolution of powers from regional to local level;
• the effectiveness of current arrangements for managing services at the various levels, and their inter-relationships;
• the potential for new arrangements, particularly the establishment of city regions;
• the impact which new regional and sub-regional arrangements, such as the city regions, might have upon peripheral towns and cities; and
• the desirability of closer inter-regional co-operation (as in the Northern Way) to tackle economic disparities.
The Committee invites written evidence on the points above and other relevant topics by Monday 23 January 2006. Witnesses who wish their evidence to be treated in confidence should contact the Committee clerk in advance. It should also be noted that decisions about who to call for oral evidence are likely to be taken on the basis of evidence received by this date.[The form which such evidence should take is set out below B please note in particular the restriction on length and that wherever possible it should be submitted by e-mail or on disk].
Oral evidence sessions will be arranged and will be announced in due course.
Contact: Elizabeth Hunt, Joint Committee Clerk 020 7 219 3927/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Written evidence must if possible be submitted in an electronic format, either on disk or preferably by e-mail. It should be in MS Word or Rich Text format.
If sent by e-mail it should for this inquiry be sent to email@example.com.
The e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from. If sent by post it should be sent to the Clerk, ODPM Committee, Committee Office, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA. Witnesses without access to a computer are respectfully requested to take particular care that submissions are legible.
Submissions should be as brief as possible, and certainly no more than 3,000 words. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and it would be helpful to include a brief executive summary. Those submitting evidence are reminded that evidence should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted no public use should be made of it. Guidance on the submission of evidence can be found here Further details of the Committee, including its current membership, can be found on the Committee's homepage
Thursday, December 08, 2005
The EU is a layer of government (the Chief Exec of Telford & Wrekin Council said so to me) and government is political - to argue that it isn't is bizarre.
Look at the dictionary definition of "advertising" and you will see the word "promotion" in there.
The flag costs money, the planning consent costs money.
Therefore, the local authority is spending public money (flag & consent) to promote (synonym of advertising) the EU (political organisation).
Seems pretty simple.
Latest from EM.
Note at the end:
"The EU flag does not advocate a view on policy, therefore it cannot hope to persuade the public to take on a particular view on policy. Regardless, the primary purpose of flying the flag could only be to make the public more aware that the UK is a member state of the EU, and this is plainly a fact, not a view.
Wear Valley Council took down its EU flag this autumn following protests of this sort. The Council has since restored the flag."
The Channon article itself is clearly an attempt to persuade the public to take a particular view on policy - which is OK, insofar as it's not publicly funded. But as she ends:
"So I like to see the EU flag flying from our flagpoles. It speaks to me of friendship, or working together, of trying to make a better world. We're nowhere near achieving it yet. But it's a hope worth striving for."
doesn't that rather contradict the EM plea that the EU flag does not advocate a view on policy?
She could always fly the EU flag from her own flagpoles, at her own expense.
Now EM Campaign Guide
#1 - Flying the EU flag, but still links to an updated:
#3 Flying the European Flag on Buildings
Last updated 29 November 2005
(This briefing applies to non-Government buildings, including
local authority buildings.)
1. National flags do not require consent (ie. planning permission) to be flown:
Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992 Statutory Instrument 1992 No. 666
Schedule 2 – Classes of advertisements to which Parts II (‘Deemed consent’) and III
(‘Express consent’) of these regulations do not apply
Class I The national flag of any country.
1. Each flag is to be displayed on a single vertical flagstaff.
2. Neither the flag nor the flagstaff may display any advertisement or subject matter additional to the design of the flag.
Only national flags are exempt from requiring consent. Unfortunately there is no more precise definition of what constitutes a national flag than the text above.
It is our understanding that the EU flag is not, in this context, regarded as a national flag, and therefore flying it requires consent.
(Non-national flags may be exempt from requiring consent if they satisfy some other condition, such as being incorporated into the fabric of a building, or displayed on a vehicle – see Schedule 2 in full).
2. Local authorities have day-to-day responsibility for the operation of the advertisement control system. When an advertisement is displayed in contravention of the above regulations, enforcement is at the discretion of the local authority:
Town and Country Planning Act 1990
Part VII – Enforcement Enforcement notices
(a) it appears to the local planning authority that there has been a breach of planning control after the end of 1963; and
(b) the authority consider it expedient to do so having regard to the provisions of the development plan and to any other material considerations,
they may issue a notice requiring the breach to be remedied.
(Local authorities have enforcement powers under section 225 of the Act to "remove or obliterate" any such item, having first to give at least two days’ written notice of their intention to the displayer).
3. There are proposals to
i) include the European flag in Class I
(ie. national flags, exempt from the need for consent)
ii) lift the restrictions on how flags in Class I are flown
(each flag must currently be displayed on a single, vertical flagstaff)
Recommended amendments to the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992
News Release 29 June 2000, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions
17. [new proposal]
Adopt the new proposal that as well as national flags being flown without having to apply for consent, the European flag should also be included in Class I.
16. [no change from the proposal of paragraph 4.14 of consultation paper*]
Adopt the proposal to amend legislation to exempt from control national flags however they are flown from a flagstaff.
Upon placing these proposals in the Library of the House in 2000, Angela Smith MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Beverley Hughes said:
"The Department is now preparing the necessary statutory instruments and guidance to implement the changes."
These statutory instruments have not yet been before the House.
Their preparation, and the issuing of guidance for implementation has been delayed until now.
A "mini-consultation" will be held later this year on these amendments first proposed in June 2000.
It is expected that they will go before the House, and come into force, in Spring 2006.
1. The EU flag, like all flags other than national (Class I) flags, is currently categorised as requiring consent to be flown, according to the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992.
2. Enforcement of the 1992 regulations is at the discretion of local authorities – ie. whether action is considered expedient with regard to certain considerations – according to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
3. If, as expected, amendments proposed in June 2000 are adopted, and come into force in Spring 2006 The European flag will, in this context, be treated as any national flag, and therefore its flying will not require consent, regardless of how it is flown from a flagstaff.
* - Proposed amendments released in October 1999 to the 1992 regulations, following a consultation paper of July 1999, included, in section 4.14, the lifting of the ‘vertical flagstaff’ restrictions, since "This requirement is proving somewhat restrictive because some buildings cannot accommodate vertical poles thus making it necessary for application for consent to be made."
The Verdict from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Housing and Planning, Yvette Cooper MP, draws the same conclusions.
She writes: "When new Advertisement Control Regulations are introduced in 2006, any country's national flag, however they are flown, as well as the European Union flag may be flown without having to apply for permission provided nothing is added to the flag.
At present the European Union flag may be flown provided express consent to fly the flag has been given by the local planning authority.
It is for the local planning authority to determine whether the European Union flag should be permitted and whether they consider it necessary to take enforcement action. Government buildings benefit from Crown immunity."
Latest attempts to keep the EU flag furled-up
Latest attempts to intimidate those flying the EU flag seem to rest upon flippant referral to "Section 19 of the Local Authority Guidelines on Publicity", which purportedly asserts that such activity is an abuse of public money.
Upon closer inspection, it is clear that the cited guideline does not affect the flying of the EU flag.
The Code in full can be found at http://www.odpm.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1133861
The set of guidelines is called, in full, the "Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity", and, according to its introduction, it "sets out principles of good practice to ensure that local authority decisions are properly made."
The introduction to the Code states "Local authorities are required by section 4(1) of the [Local Government Act 1986] as amended by section 27 of the Local Government Act 1988 to have regard to the Code in coming to any decision on publicity."
The relevant passage is the conclusion of Section 19:
"local authorities, like other public authorities, should not use public funds to mount publicity campaigns whose primary purpose is to persuade the public to hold a particular view on a question of policy."
This is not in any way relevant to the question of flying the EU flag - The EU flag does not advocate a view on policy, therefore it cannot hope to persuade the public to take on a particular view on policy. Regardless, the primary purpose of flying the flag could only be to make the public more aware that the UK is a member state of the EU, and this is plainly a fact, not a view.
Wear Valley Council took down its EU flag this autumn following protests of this sort. The Council has since restored the flag.
More information on this story can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/4468924.stm
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
6th December 2005
Parking gaffe may cost town hall dear
APPEAL: Neil Herron.
A COUNCIL may be forced to pay back almost £700,000 to motorists after a campaigner uncovered a legal loophole he claims makes its parking tickets invalid.
Rochdale council sent out more than 28,000 tickets addressed to "the driver" of illegally-parked cars rather than "the owner" - wording which a national adjudication service has already ruled invalid.
Now Neil Herron, who advised the "metric martyr" greengrocer in his anti-EU legal battle, is calling on council bosses to return the £660,000 he claims they have collected unlawfully.
He wants any motorist who received a parking ticket between July 2004 and August 2005 to contact him as he prepares to launch legal action, which he estimates could cost the hard-up council £2m.
Rochdale MP Paul Rowen, the Lib Dem transport spokesman, will raise the issue in the Commons tomorrow.
But council bosses, who corrected the wording of their tickets days after the parking tribunal found against them, say the tickets were valid.
Mr Herron, who has already forced Sunderland council to start paying motorists back £35,000 in illegally-collected parking fines, said: "The arrogance of Rochdale council is staggering. The 28,000 penalty charge notices it issued before August had wording which I believe makes them void and unenforceable, and now it is refusing to pay the money back to the motorists."
New freedom of information laws used by Mr Herron have revealed the council used bailiffs to recover 409 parking fines.
He believes these people could be entitled to compensation as well as their money back.
On July 27 the National Parking Adjudication Service (NPAS) upheld a complaint, ruling: "The Rochdale notice is addressed to `the driver', whereas liability under the Act rests upon the owner. The driver may not be the owner, and in these circumstances the Rochdale notice is misleading."
In April, the NPAS sent all councils guidance that the wording on their parking tickets must fit statutory requirements.
Rochdale parking services manager Kevin Mayor said: "We were asked by the NPAS to make minor changes to our penalty notices' wording. We acted immediately to amend the wording, which now follows the adjudicators' recommendation."
Mr Mayor also claimed that penalty charge notices issued before the changes had previously been accepted by the NPAS.
An NPAS spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that an appeal involving Rochdale was allowed by an adjudicator on the grounds that the penalty charge notice issued was not valid. The adjudicator's decision is not binding in subsequent appeals."
Mr Herron wants anyone issued with a parking ticket from Rochdale council between July 4 last year and July 27 this year to write to 12 Frederick Street, Sunderland, SR1 1NA, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manchester Evening News
Fined: The £10million parking ticket
MOTORISTS in Greater Manchester are set to fork out £10m on parking fines this year, the M.E.N. can reveal today.
The huge figure means the 10 councils in the region are collectively earning more than £1,000 an hour from parking tickets.
Campaigners say car owners are losing confidence in the authorities because of the "vast" sums being generated.
But the councils last night insisted the use of parking tickets was not a money-spinner and said revenues had actually fallen in some areas.
The Manchester Evening News asked each of the 10 councils how much income they had received from Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) in 2005.
Manchester topped the list with £2.8m in 10 months (equivalent to £3.4m over the year), followed by Bolton at £1.1m in 11 months (£1.2m a year).
Stockport had handed out 17,425 PCNs in 30 weeks to the end of October - worth at least £522,750. The equivalent figure over the whole year would be £906,100, a figure likely to rise over £1m after late payments.
Salford raised £787,532 in fines in the first 10 months of 2005 (£858,000 a year), with Wigan on £600,000 for the year to November 30 (£654,000 a year) and Oldham on £388,000 for 32 weeks (£630,500 a year).
Rochdale only took over parking duties from the police in July last year and in the next 13 months gathered just over £660,000 (£620,000 a year). Trafford, Bury and Tameside failed to respond.
Independent figures from 2003 showed Trafford handing out 40,794 tickets, worth at least £1.2m, and Bury 31,345 (£940,000).
Barrie Segal, founder of anti-unfair fine website http://www.appealnow.com/, said:
"You could run a small country with this money. People have no confidence this is related to safety and the movement of traffic."
Councils are legally bound to use parking fine revenue for transport improvements. Manchester came under fire for a series of gaffes four years ago. At one point a bus was ticketed while waiting at a stop.
Pete North, strategic director of operations at Manchester city council, said the figure was actually 10 per cent lower than last year.
"The council is trying to ensure motorists park responsibly and traffic management is supported," he said. "The figure for Manchester is quite low in comparison with similar local authorities."
The new figures came to light after a Freedom of Information request by Steve Holt, chairman of the Trinity and District residents' association.
Mr Holt said: "I know they have bought some traffic-calming schemes, but they have cancelled the park and ride in North Manchester."
Do you think the council profits from parking fines are too high? Have your say.
Submit your comments
(2 comments. Last comment 06/12/2005 at 09:20)
City a parking ticket hotspot (02/05/2005)
Parking plan could be just the ticket (24/01/2005)
Links to other web sites
Click here for the Appeal Now website.
Monday, December 5, 2005
by Leanne McCormella
Traditional chocolate coins are changing - gone are traditional candy half-crowns and sweetie shaped sixpences, replaced by foil-wrapped foreign currency. Reporter Leanne McCormella finds out why stores are stuffing the euro down our throats - literally.
It seems the single European currency is sneaking in through the back door - disguised as a festive stocking filler.
Thousands of chocolate coins will be munched by sweet-toothed youngsters across the city during the Christmas holidays.
But this year, retailers are shunning pounds and pennies in favour of foil-wrapped euro treats.
An Echo survey found only one store keeping the sterling tradition alive. The rest are selling treats shaped like foreign currency.
Thorntons, which has branches in Sunderland, Durham and Washington, is the only chocolatier selling Brit-style treats. It has filled its shelves with sweets shaped like 10p. 5p and tuppences for the festive season.
High-street pharmacy Boots is selling milk chocolate gold and silver euros instead of sterling sweets.
And Superdrug and Sainsbury's are stocking a mixture of milk and white chocolate shaped as U.S. dollars and cents; Norwegian kroner, Chinese yuan and South African rand.
MEP MArtin Callanan, a vocal euro-sceptic, said: "If people want real value in their chocolate coins they should buy pounds and pence."
But one group of Sunderland youngsters making the most of the chocolate continental currency is the Euro Club at Southwick Primary School.
The Year 5 pupils meet every week to email pupils at a school in Aurland, Norway, and are also learning basic Italian.
Leader Dr Alan Stoker said: "As members of the European Community the pupils are very interested in the euro as a unit of currency, particularly when it is in chocolate form.
"Chocolatising the euro may be a good way of winning over people to accept this as our future currency."
A spokeswoman for Boots defended its decision to sell euros, saying: "Our food team have confirmed that the designs for the coins are limited and we weren't offered the option of the British Sterling design."
A Superdrug spokeswoman said the store offered international coins to make them "more educational and fun" for children.
They're not the Metric Martyr's taste
Metric Martyr Neil Herron is not a fan of the chocolate euros.
The Euro-sceptic said: "This is another example of the European Union ramming the euro down our throats - quite literally.
"But let's just allow the kids to enjoy the chocolate for what it is, useless chocolate currency."
Mr Herron is a political campaigner who launched The People's No Campaign against a European constitution before plans for a referendum were put on the back burner.
He believes any Yes vote would hand over too much power to Brussels
Over the years there have been many claims about bans enforced by the EU.
They include sweet shops banned from selling unwrapped sweets; bans on English apples which are more than 55mm across; curved bananas, cucumbers and rhubarb banned; and mushy peas outlawed.
Monday, December 05, 2005
People's No Campaign Threatens Legal Action against Rochdale Council...unless it refunds Parking Ticket money
The People's No Campaign
5th December 2005
"Rochdale Council refuses to refund parking tickets...despite them all being illegal"
"Rochdale Council is refusing to pay back £660,052 taken illegally from unlawfully issued Penalty Charge Notices( Parking Tickets). 28,260 motorists have been forced to hand over the money....The People's No Campaign threatens legal action unless the Council agrees to repay the money."
Following the exposure by Neil Herron of The People's No Campaign of the fact that Penalty Charge Notices (Parking Tickets) issued by Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council were unlawful (Manchester Evening News 5th October 2005) Rochdale Council is refusing to pay back the money it has taken without legislative authority.
Neil Herron, The People's No Campaign Director states, " the arrogance of Rochdale Council is staggering and their contempt for the law is breathtaking. They have issued over 28,000 Penalty Charge Notices with unlawful wording, which makes them 'void and unenforceable,' and now they are refusing to pay the money back to the motorists.
We have given them 7 days ( until 6pm Wednesday 7th December 2005) to issue a statement to the effect that they accept that they have acted unlawfully and make the offer to refund the money to all the motorists concerned.
This is a very serious matter and 409 of the cases were actually referred to bailiffs for action. I am sure that all of those individuals would wish to seek legal retribution for their distress and loss, not to mention everyone else who has been forced to stump up their hard-earned cash.
If a Local Authority expects motorists to obey the law then that Local Authority must respect the same principle itself. No-one is above the law yet Rochdale appears to believe that they are.
Failure to obey the law will undoubtedly result in costly litigation and action against Council Officers for Misfeasance in Public Office.
Should Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council fail to acknowledge its legal and moral responsibility then we will initiate legal action to force them to do so and also involve the Audit Commission and Local Government Ombudsman.
It is clear that because of their admission that they have been guilty of maladministration and other more serious offences which could include Obtaining Money by Deception.
The Council's accounts will also need to be investigated as they contain items of unlawful income.
In the first instance we will encourage anyone who has been issued a PCN between 4th July 2004 and 27th July 2005 to register with us in writing (12 Frederick Street, Sunderland, SR1 1NA or by e-mail email@example.com ) in advance of a class action. Hopefully the Council will do the decent thing to avoid them being thrust into the national spotlight."
An e-mail ( 5th October 2005) from RTA Associates to RMBC's Kevin Mayor states " it is only a play on words that is causing the problem" and the fact that the adjudicators have let them (other unlawfully worded PCNs) through prior to one making a fuss would weigh heavily in your favour he thinks."
This arrogance and contempt for the legal process is quite unbelievable. To consider that someone who has appealed a PCN is 'making a fuss' indicates the mind set of the people involved.
However, in a recent case concerning the form of wording on a PCN, Macarthur v Bury MBC (BC 188) 4th April 2005 the adjudicator states, "I find that there has not been substantial compliance with the legal requirements, and I agree with the proposition that, in this field where councils are not entitled to play fast and loose with statutory requirements designed to inform the subject as to his legal rights and obligations in relation to an authority possessed of penal powers."
This decision was distributed to all councils including Rochdale on 29th April 2005 and included the following:-
"Councils which adopt forms which deviate both from the statutory requirements and the DoT model do so at their own risk."
Let us hope that common sense prevails in Rochdale otherwise they will face legal action.
The seven days ends at 6pm Wednesday 7th December.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1. Decriminalised Parking Enforcement began in Rochdale on 4th July 2004 and the PCNs were altered on 2nd August 2005
2. NPAS Case Number RE58 (27th July 2005) pointed out that the PCN varied from the mandatory legislative requirements.
3. The PCNs were altered on the 2nd August 2005
4. PCNs issued (with the illegal wording 'TO THE DRIVER') numbered 28,260 and the income derived was £660,052
5. 409 cases went to the bailiffs.
6. NPAS had found in favour of the council on 18 occasions despite the wording being unlawful and therefore an inquiry must also be initiated into their conduct.
7. The Local MP is Liberal Democrat Transport spokesman Paul Rowen. He was elected to Parliament in 2005 and has a majority of 442 (1%). He has previously asked questions in the House after being contacted by The People's No Campaign on the subject.
Rochdale MP asks Parking Questions in House of Commons
8. The legislation is clear and there is case law on the subject:
The effect of a council disregarding the statutory provisions set down in the Road Traffic Act 1991 for notices and time limits was considered in Moulder v Sutton London Borough Council (1994 LPAS 1940113243). The Adjudicator, G.R. Hickinbottom, following Sedley J.’s (as he then was) judgment in R -v- The London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Tower Hamlets Combined Traders Association, (1993 unreported) determined that where the Road Traffic Act 1991 stipulated that (in the Moulder case) a Penalty Charge Notice “must state” certain requirements (Section 66(3)), those requirements are mandatory. Therefore a Penalty Charge Notice failing to contain each of the requirements set down in Section 66(3) is void and unenforceable.
9. Copies of the Illegal Penalty Charge Notice and the correctly worded one can be viewed here
10. Copy of the e-mail from RTA Associates to Kevin Mayor can be viewed here
11. The full list of questions from The People's No Campaign and Head of Parking, Kevin Mayor's responses can be viewed here
12. We have requested that Rochdale MP Paul Rowen raise the matter in the House of Commons by way of a series of questions.
13. Seven Day Notice to repay money served on Rochdale Council's Chief Executive. Read it here
They are hanging on to this by the skin of their teeth.
Saturday, December 3, 2005
by Ross Smith
Legal experts have told council bosses in a parking-fines controversy they must repay more money to drivers.
A Sunderland Council report confirms errors have been made in setting up traffic orders. The council is already returning £33,767 to drivers.
It has admitted it did not implement several ideas recommended by consultants. Now a report confirms discrepancies between traffic orders and signs. It says: "Counsel has given advice for a range of scenarios and it is clear that some further repayments should be made..."
Campaigner Neil Herron, who exposed the errors, said: "They've conceded they've made loads of mistakes, yet its down to the same people to put it right."
As for Northumbria Police Federation Chairman, Alan Arkley's statements that he hopes it doesn't place an extra burden on the Police...well what an arrogant attitude to have towards justice.
Police promise checks before prosecution
The Newcastle Journal
Saturday, December 3, 2005
by Ross Smith
Police last night promised extra checks to trace drivers after being forced to withdraw a case brought against a motorist without his knowledge.
Political campaigner Neil Herron found a £120 fine outstanding on his driving licence when it was replaced after he moved house last year.
The Sunderland activist's new documents from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, were delayed after a mix-up. Meanwhile, his car had reportedly been photographed breaking the 30mph speed limit on the A692 in Gateshead in October last year and a fine sent to his old address. When he did not repond to two letters, he was prosecuted at Bedlington Magistrates' Court in his absence for failing to give information.
But none of this was known to Mr Herron until the new documents arrived at his present home in The Westlands last August. He successfully fought his conviction and was awarded costs. Mr Herron complained that no-one had called at the house or phoned to check if he was still lived there.
Now the force has agreed to do more in similar cases in the future.
A spokesman said: "The law does not require the police to make such checks. However, Northumbria Police has recognised that there will be cases which are exceptional on their facts.
"Therefore, as a matter of goodwill, in order to identify an exceptional case, Northumbria Police has built in additional inquiries where appropriate prior to raising a sumons."
Mr Herron said: "This was a massive injustice in the first case to take anyone to court without informing them. No-one will be treated in such an unfair way again. Hats off to Northumbria Police for having the humility to accept they were wrong."
The force says another 8,753 people were prosecuted for failing to provide information in the past three years.
Northumbria Police Federation chairman Alan Arkley said: "I would hope this would not put an extra burden on officers."
From Office of the Prime Minister.
Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 flags come within the definition of “advertisement”.
Their display is controlled by the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992.
Under the Regulations displaying the national flag of any country is not subject to advertisement control as long as it is displayed on a single vertical flagstaff and neither the flag nor the flagstaff display any advertisement additional to the design of the flag.
When new Advertisement Control Regulations are introduced in 2006, any country’s national flag, however they are flown, as well as the European Union flag may be flown without having to apply for permission provided nothing is added to the flag.
At present the European Union flag may be flown provided express consent to fly the flag has been given by the local planning authority.
Local planning authorities have day-to-day responsibility for the operation of the advertisement control system and it is therefore a matter for the relevant authority to determine whether the European union flag can be flown from a building and whether they consider it necessary to take enforcement action.
I trust nobody is offended by the Cross of St George on the sign below!
Friday, December 02, 2005
The People's No Campaign
2nd December 2005
"Campaigner's Speed Case Victory forces Northumbria Police to Change Evidence Procedures ...a case that has massive national implications"
However, respect goes to Northumbria Police for putting their hands up and having the humility to accept that they were wrong.
In attempting to tax his vehicle in July 2005 Neil Herron discovered that the V5 Registration Document had not been returned from the DVLA Swansea after it had been sent off some months earlier after notifying them of a change of address. It was also apparent that his driving licence had not been returned either.
He immediately contacted DVLA who could not find them in the system, and they pointed out that a number of items do go missing but the blame may also lie with the Royal Mail who lose some 14million items of post a year.
There is no requirement by DVLA to send items by recorded delivery.
Neil Herron was advised to go the LVLO (Local Vehicle Licensing Office) at Gosforth to tax his vehicle and apply for a replacement licence.
Although aggrieved at the inconvenience of a 30 mile round trip coupled with the fact that a replacement licence would cost £19 Herron complied.
The replacement licence duly came back at the beginning of August and the events that follow have forced Northumbria Police, after a full internal review, to completely change their procedures in relation to the pursuit of alleged speed camera offenders.
This change of policy was confirmed by David Heslop, Head of Criminal Justice at Northumbria Police, in a lengthy meeting at their Ponteland HQ on 1st December 2005, where, as a result of matters raised in this case, Northumbria Police were going to implement new practices, which would undoubtedly have national implications for all other camera schemes and Police Forces. It is expected that this new 'good practice' procedure will be adopted by all other force areas.
This will mean an end to the outrageous injustice of people being convicted of a criminal offence in their absence and being fined and given penalty points, and will also force the Police to go back to proper investigative procedures in order to establish the identity of the driver of a vehicle committing an alleged offence.
More serious implications will involve all of those previously convicted in their absence of 'Failure to Provide Information.'
Many will be able to follow Herron's procedure and request that the case be re-opened under Section 142 of the Magistrates Court Act 1980.
The implications relate to the financial penalties and any hardships or consequences suffered as a result of the imposition of penalty points on licences. Costs and damages may run into tens of millions of pounds nationwide.
There will also be the cost to the force concerned with regard to the DVLA correcting the licence (believed to be £250 - £300 per licence) and removing the penalty points.
The People's No Campaign will assist with information and advice on this matter and has a legal team waiting to handle any cases.
Simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 147 2006
or write to:
The People's No Campaign
12 Frederick Street
Herron's licence was returned with three penalty points and a £120 fine. He had no knowledge of any offence nor had anyone attempted to advise him that he had been taken to court.
The licence had the convicting court code as being 2349 and the offence code MS90. The date of the conviction was 31.05.05 and 'date of offence' was 18.10.04.
Immediate enquiries revealed that Herron had been convicted in his absence at Bedlington Magistates Court for 'Failing to Provide Information' with regard to an alleged speeding offence committed some 10 months previously.
It appeared that the court had found him guilty in his absence and the only evidence that Northumbria Police had provided to the Court was the fact that a Notice of Intended Prosecution / Request for Information addressed to the Registered Keeper of the vehicle, the purpose of which is to identify the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence, had not been returned. A follow up letter received no reply and a summons was issued.
The case proceeded on that basis.
There were no further checks by Northumbria Police to establish whether Herron was actually still residing at the address, whether he was deceased, ill in hospital, abroad, whether mail was being removed or withheld or whether a dog was eating the post.
However, it appears as though once a conviction is obtained all resources are thrown at contacting the person convicted in order to get the money. This was confirmed by Sunderland Magistrates Court who had been passed over details regarding collection of the fine, and they stated that electoral registers, phone companies and credit reference agencies were all used to find the person.
Communications began with the Court and Northumbria Police and a complaint was raised.
Herron then invoked Section 142 of the Magistrates Court Act 1980:
142. Power of magistrates' court to re-open cases to rectify mistakes etc.
(1) A magistrates' court may vary or rescind a sentence or other order imposed or made by it when dealing with an offender if it appears to the court to be in the interests of justice to do so; and it is hereby declared that this power extends to replacing a sentence or order which for any reason appears to be invalid by another which the court has power to impose or make.
(2) Where a person is convicted by a magistrates' court and it subsequently appears to the court that it would be in the interests of justice that the case should be heard again by different justices, the court may so direct.
The case was re-opened and scheduled to be heard at Bedlington Magistrates Court.
The pre-trial review was heard on 21st September 2005 and the CPS lawyer never lifted his head and the Court Clerk appeared very nervous. Herron requested that the case go ahead in full and that a witness order be made to call the Chief Constable. The court clerk even went through the charade of ringing up for a court date, and this was given and confirmed.
Herron however, received confirmation in the post a few days later that the case was being dropped.
The letter from Northumbria Police stated:
FORTHCOMING SUMMONS PROCEEDINGS
SOUTH EAST NORTHUMBERLAND MAGISTRATES COURT 15.11.05
OFFENCES: KEEPER FAIL TO SUPPLY IDENTITY OF DRIVER
I refer to the above summons against you.
Enquiries have been made with the Officer in Charge of this case and in the circumstances I have requested the Clerk to the Justices to withdraw the summons, as you did not receive any documentation.
I hope this information is of assitance to you.
What came out of the meeting with David Heslop however, was that Northumbria Police had already offered no evidence and had asked for the case to be dropped. The court therefore had gone through a charade.
A Freedom of Information request to Northumbria Police revealed that there had been 8754 other cases tried at Bedlington Magistrates Court for 'Failure to Provide Information.' A request to the court as to the statistical breakdown of convictions and acquittals has drawn a blank response.
A very serious question mark now hangs over those very Magistrates who will have convicted thousands of people in their absence based on nothing more than 'no response' evidence presented by the Police.
The admission by the Northumbria Police Force that this has not been good practice and falls well short of their moral requirements allows all of those defendants to ask for their cases to be re-opened and potentially have their convictions quashed and the penalty points removed from their licence.
Once this is replicated nationally the cost to the Camera Partnerships will run into tens of millions.
Neil Herron states, " What happened in my instance was a massive injustice that should never have been allowed to happen. For a criminal case to proceed with the defendant 'in absentia' is an affront to the whole judicial process. Northumbria Police have at least had the humility to accept their endemic procedural mistakes and have undergone a full review and are going to implement new practices. They expect this will be raised at the next ACPO meeting and the practice be adopted nationally. They also accept that their behaviour in this instance has fallen well short of acceptable practice.
However, what is just as serious is the fact that the Magistrates at Bedlington have simply being rubber-stamping cases and convicting people in their absence without ever asking the Police what efforts were made, other than using two first class stamps, to contact or establish the status of the alleged.offender.
I accept that because of my profile as a campaigner my complaint was perhaps treated more seriously than anyone else who may have suffered a similar injustice, but our campaign will now assist anyone else that has suffered a similar fate.
Perhaps by forcing the Police nationally to now look at the whole system of remote policing using speed cameras, which has driving a massive wedge between them and the public, we may hopefully now get back to them treating the public at large with the proper respect that they deserve, and I am sure that this will then be reciprocated by the vast majority of the law abiding British public who hold the view that speed cameras have very little to do with road safety and everything to do with raising cash."
Costs were awarded.
The People's No Campaign
12 Frederick Street
Tel. 0191 565 7143
Mob. 07776 202045
http://www.neilherron.blogspot.com/ and http://www.thepeoplesnocampaign.co.uk/
Notes for Editors:
1. Neil Herron is Campaign Director for The People's No Campaign which has grown out of the Metric Martyrs and the North East No Campaign (defeated Prescott in last year's elected assembly referendum). The group also created the No Campaign against the European Constitution.
Neil Herron along with Steven Thoburn were European Campaigners of the Year in 2001 with the Metric Martyrs Campaign beating Wim Duisenberg and his launch of the Euro Notes and Coins.
2. The People's No Campaign is expanding to take on board all issues of unaccountable and unacceptable governance.
3. Contact details for David Heslop, Head of Criminal Justice for Northumbria Police...01661 872 555 (Force HQ)
4. Endorsed Licence and Northumbria Police Communications can be viewed here.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Any news on what could be a hull of a story please e-mail email@example.com
This is an example of what can be achieved without committees, egos and agendas and just a simple direct and professional approach.
Funding of the organisation is essential.
Please visit www.thepeoplesnocampaign.co.uk and support the campaign.
Christopher Booker's Notebook
20th November 2005
'Ring of stars' equal to Union Jack
Last month I reported how Wear Valley council had been forced to haul down an EU flag outside its offices. Legally this ranks as an "outdoor advertisement" and to fly it without planning permission is therefore illegal. Noting a "ring of stars" flag outside the headquarters of Cheshire police, a reader, Barry Jones, wrote to the chief constable asking whether he had permission. When his letter was ignored, he wrote again, mentioning that his letter would be sent to this column.
The police have now told him that the flag has been removed. Meanwhile the Government has announced that it is to rush through an amendment to the law. As from next year, the EU flag will be given the same status as the UK's own national flags. Our councils, police and anyone else will be free to fly it whenever they wish.
To see copies of Barry's communications with the force simply scroll down:
EU Flag at Cheshire Constabulary Headquarters
To Herron, Booker and Cooper
Success! I can confirm that the EU flag no longer flies outside Cheshire Constabulary Police Headquarters!
It is amazing, I wrote the initial letter on 3 October 2005 following the article in the Sunday Telegraph and when no reply was forthcoming I sent a chaser on 28 October 2005 cc'd to Christopher Booker. Almost immediately I received an acknowledgment card to say my letter had been passed to the Estates Department. Then, on 4 November 2005, I received an e-mail from David Burgham to say that both my letters had been passed to him 'yesterday, Thursday 3rd November 2005'. Copies of both the e-mail and the confirmatory letter are attached. The cynic in me says that the Cheshire Constabulary sat on my
original letter hoping nothing further would come of it. The fact the chaser was copied to Christopher Booker probably made them realise I was serious!
The Constabulary now has a flag pole that is usually unused, although it was good to see that over the Remembrance weekend just passed, the 'proper' Union Flag was flown. It does in fact have three flag poles, but now only two are used now, to fly the St. George's flag and the Cheshire County (or Constabulary) flag.
Regards and best wishes
Dear Mr Jones
Both your letters were passed to me yesterday Thursday 3rd November 2005. I thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. I contacted ValeRoyal Council and they confirmed this afternoon that you are correct andthe flying of the European Flag at Cheshire Constabulary Headquarters,Winsford. does require planning permission. The flag has now been taken down.Once again thank you for bring this matter to our attention. I have sent you a letter confirming this email.
Senior Admin Officer
The People's No Campaign
1st December 2005
"Is Wear Valley District Council the most unpatriotic in England?"
On Friday 23rd September 2005 The People's No Campaigners, Neil Herron and Jim Tague, forced Wear Valley District Council to remove the EU Flag as they had been flying it unlawfully ( it is classed as an outdoor advertisement and not the flag of a nation state. It would therefore require planning permission to be flown BUT to then use public money to promote a political project would also fall foul of Section 19 of the Local Authority Guidelines on Publicity).
It was replaced, with no complaints with the English Flag, the Cross of St. George.
The story was covered nationally here. and locally here.
The People's No Campaign has also successfully forced the removal of the EU Flag in other Local Authority areas and also from the HQ of Cheshire Constabulary. That story made the national press and was covered here.
Last week on Thursday 24th November Wear Valley District Council's Planning Committee voted unanimously to give itself planning permission to fly the EU Flag. Read it here. and here
This will entail the removal of the English Flag and replacing it with the 'Ring of Stars.'
This was covered nationally here
On 14th December 2005 the Wear Valley District Council meets in full committee to agree to the policy decision to fly the EU Flag instead of the Cross of St. George. Statements made by the Council Leaders show where their true loyalty lies.
The council's deputy leader, Charlie Kay, said after the meeting: "Britain is a member of the EU, I class myself as a European person and there's no question when you are involved in local government you see how much the North East has benefited from being a member of the EU."
However, personal political opinions do not allow them to disregard the law.
People's No Campaign Director, Neil Herron states, " This is undoubtedly the most unpatriotic Council in England. Their determination to remove the Cross of St. George is staggering and obviously statements made by others in the Labour Party nationally reveal where their true loyalty lies, and all this comes at a time when Tony Blair is about to surrender our £3billion EU budget rebate. We must stand up to this arrogant political elite and that includes fighting on every level. I am sure England's spotlight will be shining on every Wear Valley councillor when they sit and meet on 14th December. Let them dare to vote to remove the Cross of St. George."
The People's No Campaign
12 Frederick Street
Tel. 0191 565 7143
Mob. 07776 202045
www.neilherron.blogspot.com and www.thepeoplesnocampaign.co.uk
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council,
PO Box 39,
30th November 2005
Dear Mr. Ellis,
The response from Kevin Mayor, Parking and Business Development Manager, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council of 15th November 2005 is far from satisfactory.
In the letter Mr. Mayor confirmed that 28,260 Penalty Charge Notices (totalling £660,052) had been issued by Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council between 4th July 2004 and 27th July 2005 under the Council's Decriminalised Parking Enforcement regime.
These PCNs contained the wording 'TO THE DRIVER' which render the PCNs 'void and unenforceable' under the mandatory requirements of the 1991 Road Traffic Act.
I have provided details of case law in communications previously, but for clarity have again included it below.1.
It is apparent that RMBC became aware of the fact that the PCNs were unlawful because the PCNs were immediately altered as a result of NPAS case number RE58 on 27th July 2005. The newly worded PCNs were used from 2nd August 2005 onwards.
The fact that NPAS failed to bring the matter to your attention at an earlier stage is an irrelevance as their incompetence is a separate matter and one which is to be challenged with a separate legal action.
It is Rochdale Council who have the legal responsibility and requirements to act within the law and that includes understanding the requirements of the legislation. The wording of the PCN is mandatory and not open to interpretation. The legislation is quite explicit in that regard...Section 66(3) 1991 Road Traffic Act.
The fact that you 'believed' that you were acting lawfully does not excuse the fact that you were not and the PCNs contained unlawful wording.
It is not possible for the driver to make any representations and there is no reference to the driver in the legislation. It is the owner / keeper who is responsible for any 1991 RTA contraventions. To make reference to the driver on the PCN is a fundamental and glaring error.
Mr. Mayor states that there are no proposals to refund the PCN income.I wish to put you on notice and have the matter placed on record that this money has been derived unlawfully and we wish for the monies to be refunded to everyone of the 28,260 motorists who have been unlawfully penalised.
I would be grateful for a response within 7 days confirming that you have raised the matter with Mr. Mayor, and confirmed the facts of the case.
I would be grateful if you would confirm that you will initiate proposals to repay the monies unlawfully derived to avoid costly litigation.
Should you fail to do so we reserve the right to pursue the Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council on either an individual or a class action basis for the recovery of the money, damages and costs.
We will also pursue the matter with regard to Misfeasance in Public Office by various Council Officers and matters arising from the receipt, by a public authority of unlawfully derived income.
I would also be grateful if you could confirm that a copy of this e-mail will be made available to all elected members and the District Auditor.
It is my intention to bring the matter to the attention of Paul Rowen, MP for Rochdale who we expect to raise the matter in the House of Commons as well as the Rochdale general public at large via the press and media.
Adherence to the law is paramount for any local authority and for an authority such as Rochdale to act in such a cavalier and dismissive fashion with regard to their legal requirements and responsibilities, especially when they employ highly paid officials who should not be making such fundamental errors, is one which I am sure will solicit a very angry response from the ratepaying public.
I am sure that you will carefully consider your response which I will await with eager anticipation.
The People's No Campaign
12 Frederick Street
0191 565 7143
1. The effect of a council disregarding the statutory provisions set down in the Road Traffic Act 1991 for notices and time limits was considered in Moulder v Sutton London Borough Council (1994 LPAS 1940113243). The Adjudicator, G.R. Hickinbottom, following Sedley J.’s (as he then was) judgment in R -v- The London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Tower Hamlets Combined Traders Association, (1993 unreported) determined that where the Road Traffic Act 1991 stipulated that (in the Moulder case) a Penalty Charge Notice “must state” certain requirements (Section 66(3)), those requirements are mandatory. Therefore a Penalty Charge Notice failing to contain each of the requirements set down in Section 66(3) is void and unenforceable.
2. For reference: questions to / and Responses from Mr. Kevin Mayor can be viewed here
His answers reveal the following:
- Rochdale Council have issued 28,260 unlawful Penalty Charge Notices which did not contain the mandatory wording as required by the Road Traffic Act 1991. As a result, income totalling £660,052 has been unlawfully derived.
- 409 cases have been referred to the bailiffs.
- NPAS even adjudicated in favour of the Council on 18 occasions and failed to spot the unlawful PCN. Their competence must be called into question.
- When the illegal wording was brought to the attention of the Council in NPAS case number 58 the PCNs were immediately changed. You do not change correctly worded PCNs
- The Department for Transport did not have sight of Rochdale's PCN in their DPE application
- The Council have no proposals to refund the money.
Well, I am sure that there will be 28,260 who beg to differ.The full list of questions and Mr. Mayor's responses are listed below: (Herron / Mayor)
14th October 2005
Mr. Kevin Mayor, Parking Enforcement, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, PO Box 39, Municipal Offices, Smith Street, Rochdale OL16 1LQ
Dear Mr. Mayor
1. You stated that (regarding the incorrect wording on the Penalty Charge Notices) that you had taken advice from consultants, Argonaut on the matter and that there was nothing wrong with the PCNs which contained the wording 'To the Driver of the Vehicle'. You then stated that it was not a written opinion on the legality of the PCNs but an informal opinion. When questioned further you stated that the opinion was not from Argonaut but from someone whose name you refused to disclose.Can you please advise as to whose informal opinion you were referring to regarding the legality of the PCNs and under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 can you please provide any records of that opinion?Or can you confirm that no such opinion exists? If it is the latter, I would be grateful for a written apology for making a misleading statement.
Dear Mr Herron
ROCHDALE MBC – DECRIMINALISATION PARKING ENFORCEMENT REGIME
I refer to your letter of 14 October 2005 regarding the above and have the following comments to make on the points you raise.
1. The informal opinion was from Peter Lowe of RTA Associates (copy email of 5 October 2005 attached).
NB. This is in the form of an e-mail from Peter Lowe (firstname.lastname@example.org) to Kevin Mayor and cc'd to Gill Shore (Parking Services) dated 5th October 2005.
I have tried to ring but you are engaged!! surprise. Gerald is on holiday. roger Shwartz rang me back to say the response on the phone is basically, "all PCNS were issued legally in the eyes of RMBC and if anyone wants to take it further they have to write in." then let them go to court if necessary as you have done nothing wrong operationally and it is only a play on words that is causing the problem. the fact that numerous adjudicators have let them through prior to one making a fuss would weigh heavily in your favour he thinks. I know it is not much but he does not see too much of a problem defending it.
best of luck
2. You inform me that you have no website informing the public as to the nature, location and extent of Rochdale Council's DPE regime, and it will not be in place for possibly another six months. Can you please advise as to why this was not considered necessary prior to the commencement of DPE and confirm that this is an unacceptable state of affairs?
2. Whilst a website concerning D.P.E. is desirable It is by no means mandatory. Any member of the public receiving a Penalty Charge Notice will be advised of the process If they enquire. The documentation of the DPE system In Itself Informs the motorists of their rights at all stages.
3. Can you please supply a copy of the Audit Report you referred to detailing this failure to provide information?I would be grateful for the answers to a number of further questions (please treat as a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 wherever necessary):
3. Enclosed Is a copy of the Council's internal audit report on the introduction of DPE in the Borough.
4. Can you please advise as to the exact date when Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council began their Decriminalised Parking Enforcement Regime?
4. Rochdale MBC began its DPE regime on 4th July, 2004.
5. Can you please advise as to when and how it was brought to your attention that Rochdale Borough Council's Penalty Charge Notices were incorrectly worded?
5. In an adjudication case no., RE58 dated 27th July, 2005 It was pointed out that the Council's PCN's varied from the Department of Transport Model Notice.
6. How many Penalty Charge Notices have been issued from the inception to date?
6. A total of 32,288 PCN's were issued between 4 July, 2004 and 30 September 2005.
7. How many PCNs were issued with the incorrect wording:"TO: THE DRIVER OF THE VEHICLE SHOWN BELOW"and can you please confirm the amount of income derived from these unlawful PCNs?
7. Between 4th July 2004 and 1 August 2005 a total of 28.260 PCN's were issued, the income from which was £660,052.
8. How many of these incorrectly worded PCNs have ended with enforcement action by bailiffs?
8. To date a total of 409 cases have been referred for action by Bailiffs.
(No point 9)
10. Have you now changed the wording? If so, can you please advise as to when and please supply a copy of both pre and post decision PCNs?
10. The PCN's were changed on 2 August, 2005, copies of both are enclosed.
11. Can you please confirm that all of the PCNs issued with the above incorrect wording are 'void and unenforceable'?
In order to assist you with this I have copied below an NPAS decision from 25th May 2000
Mr. C v Hastings Borough Council
Case Number: HS0013
The effect of a Council disregarding the statutory provisions set down in the Road Traffic Act 1991 for notices and time limits was considered in Moulder v Sutton London Borough Council (1994 LPAS 1940113243). The Adjudicator, G.R. Hickinbottom, following Sedley J.'s (as he then was) judgment in R -v- The London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Tower Hamlets Combined Traders Association, (1993 unreported) determined where the Road Traffic Act 1991 stipulated that (in the Moulder case) a Penalty Charge Notice "must state certain requirements (Section 66(3)), those requirements are mandatory. Therefore a Penalty Charge Notice failing to contain each of the requirements set down in section 66(3) is void and unenforceable. Since Paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 6 of the Acts sets out the requirements to be contained in a Notice to Owner in the identical words, namely,"A notice to owner must state",it follows that the requirements are mandatory. Any Notice to Owner that does not comply with those requirements is void and unenforceable.
11. The Council do not accept that the PCN's are void and unenforceable
12. In the Rochdale Observer (4th October 2005) you were quoted as saying, "Since DPE was introduced in Rochdale, the ultimate liability has always been with the registered keeper of the vehicle. There has never been a fixed legal wording of notices." (my emphasis).Can you confirm that this statement in bold type is incorrect?
13. You then go on to say, "Penalty Charge Notices issued before this time have been accepted by the National Parking Adjudication Service."Can you please provide details of the following:(i) The number of PCNs which have been appealed to NPAS and their outcomes?(ii) Whether the incorrect PCN was included in the evidence bundle from Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council(iii) Can you please confirm that Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council received the 'Recommendations/Guidelines’ that NPAS have issued to all local authorities since the inception of NPAS, and can you please provide a copy?(iv) Can you please confirm how many tickets have been refunded to date and the amount?
13 (i) Prior to NPAS case RE58 the outcomes were as follows:
29 cases not contested 18 Appeals refused
9 Appeals allowed
2 Appeals withdrawn.
(ii) Copies of the PCN's are always included in the evidence pack. Two copies of the PCN are printed at the time of issue. The duplicate is sent to NPAS.
(iii) NPAS Circulars can be accessed on the NPAS website; accordingly copies are not enclosed because they are reasonably accessible by other means (i.e. Via the NPAS website).
(iv) No PCN payments have been refunded as a result of NPAS decisions. No payment is made prior to an NPAS appeal.
14. Can you confirm that steps will now be taken to immediately refund all the money obtained unlawfully by contacting the motorists directly and issuing notices to the press and media?
14. There are no proposals to refund PCN income.
15. Can you please confirm that Rochdale Metropolitan Borough's Treasurer will be informed that there are unlawful items of income contained in the Council's accounts, and confirm the amount, and provision will be made to ring-fence this unlawful income in order to protect the monies to be refunded?
15. There are no proposals to ring-fence income in the Council's Accounts.
16. Can you please advise as to whether the DPE application made to the Department for Transport to create Statutory Instrument 2004 No. 1402 'The Road Traffic (Permitted Parking Area and Special Parking Area) (Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale) Order 2004' included a copy of the proposed PCN?
16. No PCN was submitted with the DPE application to the Department of Transport. None was requested, only information on the proposed PCN level.
17. Can you confirm whether there was an inspection carried out of all the relevant Traffic Regulation Orders, signs lines and plates and proposed PCNs prior to the implementation of Decriminalised Parking Enforcement? If so by whom, and were all the recommendations acted upon?
17. There was an independent inspection made of all the lines and signs in Rochdale MBC by the Greater Manchester Transportation Unit acting on behalf of the Council.
Recommendations arising from the inspection were dealt with by a new Consolidation Order with amendments which was advertised and made prior to the commencement of DPE.
18. Can you please confirm receipt of this e-mail and confirm that you will provide the Chief Executive, Treasurer, Head of Legal Services and the Leader of the Council with a copy along with all of Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council's councillors?I hope that Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council accepts full responsibility for its actions without the need for a protracted internal or external investigation involving the expenditure of more public money and look forward to Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council doing 'the decent thing.'
18. The content of your letter has been circulated to all relevant Council officers and appropriate Council Members briefed.
I apologise for not replying earlier, please confirm that you are now withdrawing your complaint under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
I hope this letter is helpful.
J K Mayor
Parking and Business Development Manager
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