Monday, December 05, 2005

People's No Campaign Threatens Legal Action against Rochdale Council...unless it refunds Parking Ticket money

Press Release
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 ) 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.



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

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