Council is facing parking fines probe
Monday October 31, 2005
Sunderland City Council is facing an investigation by Government watchdogs after it kept cash wrongly collected in parking fines for more than 18 months.
Campaigner Neil Herron has made a formal objection to the Audit Commission about the council's accounts for the last financial year, because they included the money collected in fines.
In November 2003, council bosses discovered traffic wardens did not have the power to issue parking tickets to motorists who had left their cars in taxi ranks.
A month later, officials also realised they could not fine disabled badge holders for parking in loading bays.
But despite realising that they had wrongly collected £33,767 in penalties, there were no efforts to refund motorists until August this year.
The commission has confirmed it is investigating the complaint from Mr Herron, who uncovered the errors.
A spokesman said: "We will take a first look to see if we think there is merit in the objection. If there is, we would follow up and investigate, and we would reply to Mr Herron with our findings."
Sunderland Council solicitor Bob Rayner has admitted there may be several more errors within the parking regime.
Staff have recently been repainting parking bays and moving signs in an effort to get things in order.
Monday, October 31, 2005
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