Thursday, January 26, 2006

Press Release: Sunderland MP Drawn into Parking Row

Press Release: Immediate
Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sunderland MP, Chris Mullin, now involved in Sunderland's DecriminalisedParking Shambles...Secretary of State asked to Revoke DPE status

Sunderland MP, Chris Mullin's office yesterday confirmed that there was still no response from the Department for Transport or the Minister to the series of questions raised by the group behind the exposure of SunderlandCity Council's shambolic Decriminalised Parking enforcement regime.

The questions were put for Mr. Mullin to table in Parliament (see below).

An extraordinary meeting of two committees takes place today at Sunderland Council with a meeting of the Leader and Cabinet tomorrow to discuss the findings of the scathing and damning report..."Decriminalised Parking Enforcement - Post Implementation Review," produced by the Head of Internal Audit, Paul Davies.

Campaigner Neil Herron states, "The report is absolutely scathing and exposes wholesale failures in the department responsible for the oversight and operation of parking enforcement and the legal department. What is absolutely clear is that Sunderland City Council, perhaps in their haste to initiate DPE, misled the Secretary of State in their application to theDepartment for Transport, 'Application for Designation Order for Permitted Parking Area and Special Parking Area' which allowed them, when granted byParliament, to begin DPE.
What must be borne in mind is that this has allowed them to collect millions of pounds which has gone into the Local Authority's accounts and into the pockets of a private company... all on the basis of reassurances given bySunderland Council Officers but which were based on an absolute falsehood.
Those reassurances were never checked.
Now as a result of our complaint and the internal investigation's revelations we expect nothing more than full refunds to every member of the public and resignations from all those involved in this shambolic episode.
We expect the Secretary of State to revoke the SPA / PPA for Sunderland and reinstate parking control back to the Police and Police employed Traffic Wardens."

Notes for Editors:

The Application from the City of Sunderland to the Department for Transport seeking to introduce a SPA / PPA pursuant to the Road Traffic Act 1991 to allow the authority to implement a decriminalised parking enforcement regime was submitted on 30th April 2002.

On 14th November 2001 the Cabinet had approved the proposals including adecision to join the National Parking Adjudication Service.

The proposed commencement date was 14th October 2002 (later put back toFebruary 3rd 2003).

In the application it states:
'The authority has carried out, or set in motion, all of the necessary steps required to enable proper and successful implementation of new powers.
Specifically it has
...undertaken an extensive review of its waitingand loading restriction traffic regulation orders...
The objective of this exercise have been:

- to provide clear, unambiguous TROs for the relevant adjudication service

- to ensure the accuracy of the representation on the ground of the TROs,including signs and lines

- to ensure the appropriateness of the TROs

The work will be completed well before the commencement date.

It is clear from the Internal Investigation that not only was this work not completed, but it still had not been completed when the investigation commenced and we have witnessed to date seven full pages of corrected TROs in the local press and lines and signs being corrected, removed or replacedby the hundred.

Therefore, answers to the questions tabled by Chris Mullin MP become very critical to the outcome of this whole sorry saga.

We are now thirty six daysand waiting.

Parliamentary questions for Chris Mullin

To: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 theirDecriminalised Parking Enforcement application that their signs, lines andTraffic Regulation Orders are correct and in force before the commencementof 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 orCouncil Officers, should it be proven that they:-
(i) Submitted a Decriminalised Parking Enforcement application to theDepartment for Transport knowing that the enforcement regime would not or could not be in force legally because at the time DPE was due to commencethere were numerous errors with regard to on-street signage and incorrectTraffic 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 RegulationOrders?

6) To ask the Secretary of State for Transport:
'What action, and by whom, could be taken against a Local Authority orCouncil Officers, should it be proven that they are continuing to allowPenalty Charge Notices to be issued knowing that aspects of theDecriminalised 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 appearsto be unlawful and fails to expressly repeal, and therefore conflicts withthe provisions of the Constitution.'

Neil Herron
Office 0191 565 7143
Office 0191 514 4606
Mobile 07776 202045

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