Wednesday, January 25, 2006
A catalogue of errors on the council's running of car parking in Sunderland has been revealed in a damning report.
A team of investigators examined how city chiefs handled parking issues since taking over control from Northumbria Police in February 2003.
Since then, the council and its partner National Car Parks have collected more than £5.4 million in tickets and fines.
Traffic campaigners have already claimed there were massive legal loopholes in the system and parking ticket refunds were offered to some motorists last summer.
A report by the council's chief executive Ged Fitzgerald and a special audit team shows "significant weaknesses" in how parking has been handled by the council.
These include major failings in the council's traffic, parking and road safety departments, such as poor management, a lack of communication between traffic staff and council lawyers and not keeping clear records.
Campaigner Neil Herron, who has called for the parking system to be scrapped and refunds offered to everybody who has ever been given a ticket, said: "Motorists and businesses across the city have been fined for apparently not adhering to the law and all the time those purpoting to be representing the law have failed spectacularly."
The investigation team found there were more than 300 errors on where there should be parking and waiting restrictions in the city - the council has since corrected these.
A spokeswoman for Sunderland City Council said: "Sunderland City Council has acknowledged organisational and operational failures and has taken as much remedial action as possible in the time available to date. An action plan is being implemented to address any outstanding issues.
"Separate to the review, signs and legal orders relating to the regime have been checked and work has been going on to rectify any incorrect road markings or signs. A number of penalty charge notices that have been issued incorrectly have now been repaid to 92 per cent of those affected.
"The remit of the review was not to test the legality of the system. Leading counsel's advice confirmed in November 2005 that parking in Sunderland was not unlawful.
"The City Council will undertake a further investigation into any issues relating to staff involved in the management and operation of the parking scheme.
Friday, February 03, 2006
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