Friday, February 03, 2006

Blue Badge Holders wrongly ticketed. Millions should be repaid

Press Release:Immediate

The People's No Campaign / Metric Martyrs Campaign

Campaign group uncovers flaw in Decriminalised Parking Enforcement Legislation ... Disabled Drivers entitled to refunds running into millions

In what could become another major embarrassment for the Government and the Department for Transport, Campaigner, Neil Herron reveals how exposure of Sunderland City Council's disastrous implementation of their Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) regime should lead to refunds for tens of thousands of Disabled Motorists across the rest of the country.

The examination of DPE by the campaign team began in Sunderland as a tangential aspect to overturning the Metric Martyrs dubious convictions in the High Court. Setting the constitutional law arguments aside, the campaign also examined the technical aspects of DPE not only in Sunderland but also across the country.

DPE is expanding out of control and there are now 144 Local Authorities operating the scheme under the 1991 Road Traffic Act and the 'decriminalised' aspect has taken away the opportunity for the motorist to dispute any alleged contraventions before a Court of Law. Instead, the only right of appeal is to an 'independent' adjudicator (funded at the rate of 60p per ticket).
Many local authorities desperate to latch on to the 'cash-cow' of DPE have taken shortcuts when implementing and enforcing, and in many areas we are witnessing local authorities acting in a lawless fashion.

This particular aspect of DPE uncovered here relates to alleged contraventions committed by Blue Badge Holders.


In mid 2003 Sunderland City Council became aware after a complaint by a member of the public that Blue Badge Holders may be exempt from being issued with Penalty Charge Notices issued in Loading Bays. The Council sought advice on the legality of Blue Badge Holders parking in loading bays.
Counsel's advice revealed that Regulation 8 of the Local Authorities Traffic Orders (Exemption for Disabled Persons) (England) Regulations 2000 provides an exemption for Blue Badge Holders.

Similar advice was received from the Department for Transport.

Based on that advice it was decided to issue refunds to Blue Badge Holders who had parked in loading bays. (The offence is a Code 25 and it does not distinguish between Blue Badge and non Blue Badge Holders, so investigation of all photographic records and Parking Attendants Notebooks is required to ascertain who will be entitled to refunds).

Friday 27th January 2005...Clint D'Souza (Department for Transport Mobility & Inclusion Unit) has confirmed that he has not yet responded to the Freedom of Information request 26th October 2005, and passed to him on 22nd December 2005. He did confirm that it appears that the way the legislation could be read would indicate an exemption for Blue Badge Holders parked in Loading Bays. It may be necessary to redraft legislation to close the anomaly.

He expects that some local authorities may choose to follow Sunderland's line and issue immediate refunds without being challenged legally. Others may have to be challenged either through the Adjudication process or the courts.

Metric Martyr and No Campaign Director, Neil Herron, states, "Whilst we do not advocate irresponsible parking it is not acceptable for local authorities who have jumped on the 'cash-cow' of DPE to disregard the law. If motorists have been fined unlawfully then that money must be refunded without question.
What is becoming more apparent is that many local authorities are prepared to play fast and loose with legislative requirements in the pursuit of quick financial gain. It is staggering that we are uncovering so many flaws in the implementation and operation of DPE in many areas across the country yet there is no statutory guidance or scrutiny or censure, except by publicity, once things go wrong."



Neil Herron
12 Frederick Street
Tel. 0191 565 7143
Tel. 0845 147 2006
Mob. 07776 202045


1. The Offence Code for a contravention 'being parked in a loading bay' (CODE 25) does not differentiate between Blue Badge Holders and ordinary motorists. This means that all Code 25s will need to be checked manually (photographic and Parking Attendant notebook records) in order to ascertain whether a Blue Badge holder was mistakenly ticketed. In the Sunderland case this has been done and, to date, 200 tickets have been refunded.

2. The Department for Transport have been reluctant to release the advice given to Sunderland City Council, and the Freedom of Information request which will confirm the Blue Badge exemption is overdue.

3. There are many Disabled Motoring Groups. Mobilise Organisation has 30,000 members. The matter may become one of great interest to their members, many of whom will have a direct interest in receiving refunds. Mobilise Organisation is not connected in any way with the campaign but contact details are listed below:
Contact: Pamela Morrissey Chief Executive Mobilise Organisation PO Box 55419 LONDON SW4 6WS 020 7207 3086

4. The Sunderland City Council Decriminalised Parking Enforcement: Post Implementation Review can be seen here (see section 8.3)

5. The People's No Campaign is a subsidiary 'umbrella' campaign attached to the Metric Martyrs Campaign and is concerned with opposing and exposing all forms of unacceptable and unaccountable governance.
- Exposure of the 'out of control' Decriminalised Parking scam which the Government and Department for Transport fails to recognise can be viewed here.
- Exposure of the false 'independence' claimed by the National Parking Adjudication Service can be viewed here.and here
- Recent news on how local authorities are defying the law to rake in millions here
6. The People's No Campaign has grown out of the Metric Martyrs and the North East No Campaign (massively defeated Prescott in the 2004 Elected Assembly Referendum).
7. Neil Herron along with the late 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.
8. A few examples of some Local Authorities Code 25s issued:
- Plymouth 1789 (total Code 25s)
- Blackburn with Darwen 227 (Blue Badge Only)
- Southend-on-Sea 796 (Blue Badge Only). If Average PCN is £40 ... over £30,000 in Southend alone
- Barrow 2,837 (total Code 25s)
- Neath-Port Talbot 6,146 (total Code 25s)

9. To be revealed next ... the number of Local Authorities that have enforced Decriminalised Parking on Taxi Ranks made under an Act of Parliament without DPE powers ... and the massive amount of money that will have to be refunded. Actual figures have been received following Freedom of Information requests to all DPE authorities.

10.Department for Transport Great Minster House 76 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DR
Enquiry Helpdesk on, 020 7944 8300.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Magistrates’ Association’s response to the proposed reforms to remove petty criminals from the courts, January 16th, on their website:

"The Magistrates’ Association is very concerned about the proposal for defendants who plead guilty to minor offences to be dealt with by a prosecutor rather than appearing in court. No details of the proposed reforms have yet been given but the Association firmly believes that defendants charged with an offence must be dealt with fairly and impartially, and that what might seem a very straightforward case at the outset often turns out not to be when it appears in court. One of the offences mentioned for this is criminal damage – this can vary enormously from breaking a wooden post to smashing an expensive car. The Association is not against change and recognises that there may be a case for streamlining some procedures for a speedy resolution, not least to reduce the anxiety for victims and witnesses but great caution must be given to removing cases away from the judiciary. As magistrates we always try to make a speedy decision but what we don’t do is make a snap decision."

It's not unreasonable to suspect that eventually some of these "minor offences" will also be de-criminalised, and the administration of penalties will later be placed in the hands of private operators - and then we'll see exactly the same kind of problems we now have with de-criminalised parking offences.

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