Monday, December 24, 2007

Back in Action ... thanks to the NHS

Too much football when I was young. Too many injuries. Insufficient time to allow healing. Exercising 'inappropriately' all ensured that something at some point had to give. When you are young you think you are indestructible.

When you get over the hill a touch you have to have a realignment of that thought process.

Last time it was the attempt at the Coast to Coast bike ride which lasted precisely 13 miles before I hit the reality check ... 'you gettin' on a bit Herron' after misreading a steep bank and ended up breaking my fall with my face on tarmac after cascading over the handlebars at what seemed like 50mph (probably more like 15!)

This time it was the ankles ... left first and then the right.
Out for a run the collapse into a heap gave the game away that I didn't have any working ligaments. Over a year later it hadn't really recovered so I went for x-rays.
The x-rays showed the problem ... broken bone and no ligaments to speak of, and credit where credit is due the NHS then took over and I was sorted within months.
Admitted on Thursday ... ligaments reconstructed and broken bone removed and discharged Friday. I have nothing but praise for all the staff especially the surgeon but he did say that my footballing days were over! As soon as I can walk they will do the other one.

Not wanting to appear useless I went for a paper on the way home ... and if someone had had a video camera then it would be worth £250 on You've Been Framed. I went into the shop and crutch one hit the wet patch on the tiled floor and what followed probably looked like a cross between Bambi on ice and a Preying Mantis on acid.

So, confined to barracks for two weeks for R and R ... but a Merry Christmas to all on Ward 44 at the Sunderland Royal and thanks to all the operating staff and the surgeon.

Meanwhile, some interesting developments in a number of areas including restitution, refunds and McDonalds. Seems like some motorists will have a leg to stand on!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Which Report Published ...Appeal those Parking Fines

Which Report
Appeal those Parking Fines


Now Which have shown that you can be successful in appealing those parking fines and that councils frequently refuse appeals despite having no grounds to do so ... it is time you checked out the country's experts at http://www.parkingappeals.co.uk/

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Parking Ticket company NCP Services cancels Christmas ...


...bonuses for staff.

Our little NCP Services story has finally made the nationals ...

Today's Daily Mail reports on the story we covered here

Parking bosses cancel Christmas bonus for wardens... for fear of offence

Parking wardens have had their Christmas bonus axed to avoid upsetting non-Christian colleagues.
Bosses at NCP Services usually give staff a £25 Argos voucher for each year of service.
But this year the firm has decided it is "inappropriate" because some employees do not celebrate Christmas.

Uproar: Parking warden unions are furious workers have had their Xmas bonus cancelled
Read more...

NCP operates a diverse range of services, including traffic wardens, for 31 councils across Britain.
Spokesman Tim Cowen said: "We employ people from more than 100 countries and feel it is perhaps no longer appropriate just to recognise Christmas celebrations."

He also said it could be seen as unacceptable for a transport firm to hold alcohol-fuelled parties.
Unions are furious at the move and are considering strike action.

Thought parking wasn't about targets ... look at the meltdown in Croydon

We are repeatedly told that Decriminalised Parking Enforcement is not about targets ... but enforcement contract talks are at a stalemate in Croydon ... because contractor it is understood that APCOA are 'demanding the council agree to a clause which would allow them to issue an extra 20,000 tickets each year.'

If that is the case are they expecting that there is to be a sudden collective mental collapse by motorists in Croydon 'forgetting how and where to park' or is there going to be a spate of line painting or is it simply going to be a step up in draconian enforcement to allow a private enforcement contractor a 'nice little earner?'

Read the full story in the Kingston Guardian here

Monday, December 17, 2007

Another council. Another blunder. More refunds to come.

Press Release: Immediate

Christmas Present for Motorists ... Thousands in line for Parking Ticket refunds.

Parking Campaigner Neil Herron who runs the online website Parking Appeals.co.uk reveals another blunder by a North East council which will mean that thousands of motorists unlawfully fined will be entitled to refunds.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council first became aware of the problem with the wording of their Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) after losing an adjudication at the National Parking Adjudication Service over two years ago. They did not correct the mistake immediately, in fact the mistake was not rectified for over 18 months.

It appears to be a case of deja vu for motorists after another North East authority, Sunderland City Council made a similar mistake a couple of years ago and were forced to refund over £60,000 after their serious error was exposed.

In Redcar and Cleveland council officers decided not to make this mistake public but a recent employment tribunal hearing revealed the extent of the cover-up as a former council officer made the startling claims after being employed in the council's parking services department. The courageous whistleblower revealed that the council were aware that they had received over £60,000 without having correct legal orders and the sums required to be refunded could be as high as £1.4million as the council continued to enforce in areas where they were aware that the lines, signs and TROs were non-compliant or unlawful despite the employees' concerns.
However, becasue the council decided not to go public and inform anyone that they were entitled to refunds, they may well face very serious charges. Indeed, it is essential that a full external investigation is initiated as a matter of urgency..

Neil Herron states: "The Council have a duty to refund the money paid by motorists in areas where there were no valid Traffic Orders. Indeed, not only has the council benefited from 'unjust enrichment' they also appear to have deliberately covered up the error. This is a very serious matter and those responsible should be investigated and, if necessary dismissed. If the council do not volunteer the refunds then we will ensure that all the facts are made public and insist that complaints are made to the relevant authorities."

ENDS:

Contact:

Neil Herron

Previous coverage:

Unpaid Parking Fines Put on Hold

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The power of the blog ... and the Parking Appeals Blogger

If there was ever any doubt as to how fearful the authorities are of what we are exposing one need look no further than this little example.

It also clearly shows that what we are saying with regard to non-compliant lines and signs is correct and that the authorities are worried about a Judicial Review on the subject ... which could be a very costly one indeed when they lose ... hence their reluctance to engage.

The story begins over a year ago when we were tipped off about a non-compliant bay in Leeds. It was useful because we could tie it in with a trip to Manchester where we intended to get a PCN outside the offices of the National Parking Adjudication Service in Minshull Street ... to highlight the fact that they were not independent. The story was blogged here

A Penalty Charge Notice was issued on 7th October 2006. However, Manchester City Council were monitoring the blog. As a result of papers only just released under the Freedom of Information Act after waiting months, the story is quite incredible.

It is revealed that MCC's Information Compliance Officer had noted that reference had been made on the blog to Neil Herron receiving a PCN in Minshull Street. The council then took 'the reasonable step' of 'reviewing the road marking at that location.'

Are you afforded the same luxury BEFORE you raise the matter if indeed at all?

However, the bay was found to be defective and re-lining works were carried out on 17th October 2006. The council in their letter of 28 November 2007 thank me for bringing it to their attention ... but funnily enough they forgot to inform me or thank me at the time.

On 20th October 2006 Graham Marsh of Manchester Parking issued an e-mail in which he states:
"Following confirmation that the P&D Bays outside the NPAS offices on Minshull Street are not properly lined, can you ensure that PCNs are cancelled, and Enquiries/Reps are accepted.
David Wilkinson should be able to confirm which bays are involved.
You should note that from the attached e.mail Neil Herron claims to have received a PCN of Friday 6th October. Given that we have now confirmed that the bays are not correctly marked, can we please ensure that we do not put Mr. Herron to any further inconvenience and cancel his PCN."

You would have thought at that point at least some alarm bells would be ringing. But no, a Notice to Owner was issued on 1st February 2007 (although I never received it) but the PCN was cancelled on 6th February (although I was never told).

Chasing matters by telephone on 28th February to see why there was such a delay in sending out my Notice to Owner I was told that the PCN had been cancelled due to 'Parking Attendant error.'

So, if you have received a Parking Ticket at this location BEFORE 20th October 2006 did the Council cancel it or did they take your money.
If you have paid a PCN at this location then because the council have admitted that the signs were incorrect then it follows that the Traffic Regulation Order was not in force ... and so a refund is in order.

I am sure that the Manchester Evening News will be interested in the fact that the council actually watches my blog to ensure that wherever I park they can immediately dispatch a team to check the legality 'of their own restriction!'

Saturday, December 15, 2007

And you thought that you had parking problems?

If you have ever had problems in a multi-storey car park then you will have a little sympathy for this gentleman in the US city of Atlanta who was left dangling 60 feet above the ground after he drove the wrong way out of a car park.

Or was it that he was trying to avoid a ticket?

See the BBC Report here

Friday, December 14, 2007

Beware the Parking 'smoke and mirrors.'

The Telegraph reported this week that the number of parking fines are set to rocket as new regulations, the Traffic Management Act 2004, will be brought before MPs before Christmas and which are expected to come into force by spring.

The 'rocketing' will be due to the fact that Parking Attendants, who will now be called Civil Enforcement Officers, will be able to issue PCNs through the post after simply 'observing' the driver committing a contravention.

Many people have been hit with 'phantom' tickets issued by unscrupulous Attendants ... and they are currently illegal and can be successfully challenged. However, it will be open season on the motorist when it becomes legal to issue such tickets.

One serious point in the article is the statement that "In a further blow to motorists, millions could also lose their right to an independent appeal under the shake-up ..."
The article goes on to claim that "Another key provision will allow councils to set up their own appeals machinery ..."

Beware the smoke and mirrors because it is not the case that the councils will be able to set up their 'own' appeals machinery. There will be no change but the implication from the article was that there would be. The 'independent' appeals service will remain, but it is not currently independent nor will it be in the future. It is the administrative function of the 'Joint Committee' set up using powers contained in the Local Government Act 1972.

Who is the Joint Committee? The Joint Committee is simply made up of members from the local authorities participating in Decriminalised Parking Enforcement. NPAS for outside of London and PATAS for the 33 London Boroughs and Transport for London.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Free Parking for Daily Mail staff ... and anyone else in Kensington

A little visit today into Kensington saw F1 NED parked up in Derry Street outside the offices of the Daily Mail. Waiting for a contact to arrive, and a space in the pay and display bays, I observed that there was a heavy Parking Attendant presence. It looked like a regular hot spot ... punters picking up and dropping off and a number of chauffeurs waiting for clients.
Parking Attendant happy hunting ground!

A space became available in the last Pay and Display bay in a series of five or so. As the bay was incorrectly marked it therefore constituted free parking ... and there was no reason to allow a local authority to fall foul of another claim of benefiting from unlawfully derived income so I decided not to add to their woes by giving them any money for a p and d ticket.

Not long before the first Attendant arrived.

"Afternoon ... can I have a parking ticket please?"

This always causes confusion.

" Sir, are you going to buy a pay and display ticket?"

" No thank you ... and you know that I don't need to as the bay is incorrectly marked."

A little lesson in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 followed, and, by this time, I had been surrounded by 4 Parking Attendants. The supervisor identified himself and I advised him that if he gave me a ticket I would call him as a witness, and as a supervisor he should be aware that he couldn’t issue in an area which he knew was incorrectly marked. After a few moments he decided not to issue but claimed he was only doing as he was told by the council.

I said, " Well give me a ticket then and I will take my chances but I think you know that the restriction is incorrect and so when I prove that I intend to take action against the council and ensure that everyone who has been ticketed here can then claim their money back ... could cost a few quid. Do you fancy the challenge?"

He thought for a moment. He looked at his colleagues.

" I will report this to the council and ensure that they are aware that it is corrected."

They all departed the scene. No ticket was issued and I handed out a dozen or so leaflets to drivers who had spotted the car and witnessed events.

An hour later another Parking Attendant came. She checked the car.
I ambled over.
"I’m not giving you a ticket ... I’ve seen you on the telly."

Another lesson in the law was given while she read the advert on the car. She would not issue ... to me but then proceeded to ticket the car in front just as the driver returned 6 minutes after the expiry of his pay and display ticket. It was pointed out to him why the restriction was unlawful and therefore why he should not have been ticketed.
"I listen to you and Barrie on Talksport. I’ll sign up tonight and appeal the ticket."

Meanwhile, Kensington and Chelsea Council has just been put on notice that the bay does not comply with the law and they have been asked to confirm that they will suspend enforcement until the markings are corrected.

Want to know why the restriction is not legal? Visit http://www.parkingappeals.co.uk/

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Seven Council Officers suspended ... then sackings and resignations

A nine-month internal investigation has now been completed into why the Isle of Wight Council was able to award a multi-million pound contract to an international firm - High Point Rendel (HPR) - without any tendering process.
It resulted in the suspension of seven council officers, including the deputy chief executive, followed by sackings, a resignation and an early retirement.

What has this to do with parking you may ask?

Well, when you read the BBC report here it reveals that one senior council officer suspended over the Undercliff contract - director of regeneration and the environment Derek Rowell - was involved in a similar incident when he worked in the northern seaside resort of Scarborough.

The same Derek Rowell was responsible for Scarborough's Parking regime the operation of which was far from acceptable. In September 2004, the council was found guilty of maladministration by the Local Government Ombudsman after road markings and signs relating to parking where shown not to comply with legal requirements. As if that was not bad enough, the council's practice of pursuing unpaid tickets with civil court action was declared unlawful. The council were using powers available for decriminalised parking schemes, but had not actually bothered to apply to the government to run such a scheme.The illegal practices would probably still be happening today had not somebody made the mistake of slapping a ticket on a car belonging to the daughter of former Scarborough police traffic sergeant Keith Hughes. The council pursued her for non-payment and got more than they bargained for. A report is available here on the ABD site.
I am sure that some council officers are shuffling uneasily in their seats, especially in light of the revelations of a former parking services manager last week in an employment tribunal in the North East. Suffice to say at this moment, that this will be pretty explosive when all is revealed.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

More damning parking revelations to come ...

The reason for the lack of posts these past few days has been the fact that there have been a number of pressing tribunal cases ... some heard before the National Parking Adjudication Service involving Sunderland and Bristol tickets but also my time has been taken up by sitting in as an 'interested observer' at an Employment Tribunal involving a local authority's Parking Services Manager and an unfair dismissal claim.

The case is currently pending and therefore will not be reported until its conclusion, but suffice to say it will have pretty significant consequences for many councils across the country.

Meanwhile, the parking adjudication cases, including a decision by the Chief Adjudicator which slates Bristol Council will be reported soon.

Thousands 'illegally fined' in Watford claims report

A recent report in the Watford Observer claims that thousands of motorists could have been illegally fined after match day parking signing errors by Watford Council.

The press report can be read here

Yet again we have a council getting caught out ... and failing to inform the motorist in a clear and unambiguous fashion of the restriction which may apply and may result in a Penalty Charge Notice being issued.

Once you realise that the councils can keep the money you realise that 'vagueness' and 'ambiguity' in signing can lead to a nice steady income stream then you start to appreciate what a scam decriminalised parking enforcement is.

Parking Appeals will have the decision which can affect fines going back seven years on the website soon, and we can assist with all other parking queries.

Monday, December 03, 2007

When a Japanese Baby is born ...

video

... well it made me smile.

Give a man a badge and a uniform ...

... and the bureaucrats the power to become Judge Dredd and dispense instant justice (and keep the proceeds ... in this case Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust), and you will understand why stories like this are becoming more common.

This ticket was issued to an ambulance for 'not parked in a designated bay' whilst dropping off sick patients.

We know that the world has not gone mad ... it is just this country's mad officials that have, by virtue of the self-proliferating culture that they have surrounded themselves with, created a new breed.

This 'breed' is now all pervasive through Bureaucratopia whether it be hospital trusts or local authorities. They see us ordinary mortals as the enemy. Fine us into behaving. They even see their own workers and non-bureaucratic colleagues as the enemy, generating discontent and ill-feeling amongst those that should be working together as part of a team.

This culture and 'breed' need to be shown that they are not Judge Dredd and there is a proper place for fairness and justice and it is before a court of law. The proliferation of 'civil penalties' is simply encouraging the incestuous breeding of the Bureacratopian mindset.

By refusing to pay these civil fines and forcing them to take the matter before a court to recover the debt will hopefully bring the cane of common sense crashing down on their backsides.

Read the story in the Newcastle Chronicle.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

If you want a Toyota this badly ...


video


But if you want to avoid a Parking Ticket this is what you need ...

a Nissan Navarra with double yellows and a 'come and get me' number plate.

Parking Attendants for the past three weeks in Westminster refuse to ticket to the car.

We parked outside the Royal Courts to get a ticket ... to show that justice can be seen to be done ... but no-one would issue.
Come on Westminster ... what are you scared of?

Failing that your best option is to sign up to Parking Appeals and we will tell you what the authorities do not want you to know.

And for all the 220,000+ motorists who have been F1 NED in Bolton ... Christmas may well be coming early as a recent adjudication has gone in our favour proving that all tickets issued before they were changed in 2006 were non-compliant.

Or is this why there is no Christmas Party in Brighton for the Parking Attendants?

The number of 'fines' issued has dropped to the lowest level in 5 years.

Despite increasing numbers of controlled parking areas, 130,000 tickets are expected to be issued by parking attendants by April 2008 compared to the 165,000 predicted earlier this year.

This leaves the council £700,000 down on takings, although more money has been made from pay and display bays and resident permits.

However, the council still expects to make record profits from parking this year, with the total revenue hitting almost £14 million.
Some £5.6 million profit will be raked in during the 12 months up until April 2008 - £750,000 more than last year.

Read the report in the Argus ... City parking fines drop to lowest level for five years

Santa Claus comes early ... free parking for Brighton motorists

Looks like Christmas may come early for beleaguered Brighton motorists targeted relentlessly by NCP Services Parking Attendants on behalf of Brighton Council.

However, the reason why has caused anger amongst the Parking Attendants who are set to go on strike because NCP Services have cancelled the Christmas Party and bonuses.

The GMB Union which represents the Brighton Parking Attendants branded NCP Services 'Scrooge-like.'

NCP Services' 'Tiny Tim' Cowen said "We feel that as one of the most diverse workforces in the UK - employing people from more than 100 countries - it is perhaps not any longer appropriate just to recognise Christmas celebrations."

So there we have it ... NCP Services now joins the PC brigade ... but this time there will be a benefit ... free Christmas Parking in Brighton.

So, NCP doesn't stand for
N ... NO
C ... CHRISTMAS
P ... PARTIES
... unless you are a Parking Attendant.

If you are a motorist it stands for
N ... NICE
C ... CHRISTMAS
P ... PRESENT

Read the full story here in the Brighton Argus

Saturday, December 01, 2007

NCP in another fine mess ... this time Brighton


From 2003 to 2006 NCP ran a car park for Asda at Brighton Marina.

When the supermarket chain ended the contract, NCP sold on the recuperation of the outstanding fines to a debt recovery agency called Roxborough.

Now people are being contacted requesting the payment of unpaid 'fines' going back many months causing great concern and worry for many especially those who were unaware any ticket had been issued.

An Asda spokesman said: "We have issued a letter to NCP requesting the cancellation of all outstanding parking fines.
"We have also asked for fines that have already been paid for that period to be refunded and we expect them to be.

The story is reported here in the Brighton Argus.

When is the penny going to drop for these supermarkets that charging customers for parking them is one thing but then fining them for staying in the store too long smacks of bad business. And then courting more negative publicity with stories like this.

Remember Asda ... your reputation is now NCPs reputation. This is not the first time this has been reported. Remember the hospital car park?

Anyone who has paid a fine in such circumstances should contact Parking Appeals and we will assist you.

The parking 'stealth tax' dam is starting to crack

Congratulations to Ellesmere Town Council … the penny has finally dropped that parking enforcement MUST NOT be about revenue raising, it must be fair, proportionate and applied with common sense … and with consideration for needs of businesses, customers and residents alike.

One council to be praised … the other 170+ operating decriminalised parking are too dependent on the revenue to apply common sense ... YET.

However, once their regimes start to run at a deficit as more and more people appeal against illegal tickets then we will see more of this.

The councils claim 'it is not about revenue raising' ... yet some who are starting to experience shortfalls are increasing the ticket prices ... let us see what happens when more and more, and bigger, deficits start to appear and more and more motorists and businesses start voting against this unaccountable, out of control stealth tax.

Read the report in the Shropshire Star here

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