Saturday, June 28, 2008
Jun 27 2008 by nick lavigueur, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
An extract from the report ...
Sheffield City Council was recently forced to offer motorists who were wrongly fined a refund, but Kirklees Cllr David Hall, cabinet member for highways, said no one in Kirklees would be getting their money back.
He said: “If we are aware that any area or bay is not compliant with legislation then we have not fined people for parking there.
“The difference between us and Sheffield City Council is that they had full knowledge that what they were doing was not compliant.
“I assure you that in this council that is not the case.
“As soon as we are aware that somewhere is non compliant we are out within days to put it right.”
However, a word of advice to the councillor ... it was a necessary condition of the council's application to the DfT for decriminalised parking enforcement powers that signs were marked in accordance with TSRGD 2002. So who has been misled? The DfT? Kirklees motorists?
The million dollar question is whether the council has enforced in any of the dozens of locations identified as non-compliant.
The Road Traffic (Permitted Parking Area and Special Parking Area) (Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees) Order 2006 came into force 3rd July 2006 and this was the point enforcement began and the point the council began enforcing restrictions it knew did not comply with the law.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Whilst not advocating parking anarchy the British public have an in-built sense of injustice ... and parking enforcement is now out of control and careering for meltdown. The public have had enough ... and when you consider that a £60 to £120 fine for the most minor of contraventions when money is as tight as what it is means that the public anger and resentment will grow.
No-one has any sympathy for the repeat or persistent offender but these form the minority. Perhaps the only way to get Parliament to sit up and take notice is to copy your appeal in to your MP especially if there is question over the legality of the enforcement practice by the council.
Only public pressure will force the change ... but after the subdued Transport for London enforcement conference which we attended yesterday the 'industry' or service as they now call themselves, were a lot more contrite and conciliatory. Gone has the cocky arrogance and reckless indifference to the plight of the motorist. Now it is one of uncertainty as to the level of the maelstrom which is about to unfold.
Putting it right now will be a start but it doesn't let go what has gone before ... a burglar caught after years of unlawful activity can pledge to go straight but he is still accountable for his previous actions.
The public is at tipping point on this and many other matters ... and we now know the politicians are starting to realise that failure to address matters could make things very uncomfortable indeed.
Oh, and despite the 'industry' now deciding to now call themselves a 'service' I must point out that I am not a 'customer.' A customer makes a choice to be a customer ... and we certainly choose to get a parking ticket. I think the word 'victim' is perhaps more appropriate in light of the unlawful activity of some councils.
Meanwhile, back to Mr. Cable in the Richmond and Twickenham Times ...
MP calls for fairer rules on parking
By Chris Caulfield
The constant stream of residents' parking horror stories may come to an end after fresh moves were launched to create fair and flexible guidelines. More ...
Monday, June 23, 2008
Drivers’ rage at £1M money box
By Alex Hayes
Cllr Bassam Mahfouz at the Ruislip Road box junction which the council stopped policing after it was declared too big by a parking ombudsman.
A CONTROVERSIAL box junction in Southall has netted Ealing Council more than £1m in just 12 months.
Nearly 19,000 motorists were fined after being caught on CCTV while stopping in the box junction between South Road and St Joseph's Drive, despite two rulings by the Parking Ombudsman saying it is too large.
Two other junctions, situated within 200m and of the same design, have also netted the council thousands.
Jim Douglas, who runs consumer website Moneybox Junction which gives advice to motorists who believe they have been unfairly charged, said Ealing is the authority he gets the most complaints about.
He said: "It's disgusting. The council is not obliged to enforce these junctions, but the fact it does so vigorously suggests it is using this as a tax farm, a cash cow to top up its revenue.
"It wouldn't take much for the council to change the junctions to bring them in line with the regulations, but to do that would cost it money in fines, and it would also be admitting it is wrong.
"However, it continues to send out tickets like confetti and whenever someone takes it to appeal it does not contest because it knows it is in the wrong."
Last week the Department for Transport (DfT) advised councils to pay back money which had been raised through unfair enforcement to motorists.
Now Councillor Bassam Mahfouz (Lab, Northolt Mandeville), is urging Ealing Council to refund thousands of people caught stopping in a box junction between Mansell Road and Ruislip Road in Greenford, which was also ruled unlawful and is no longer enforced.
He said: "There were lots of complaints about this junction last year. The council's blunt response was that residents should pay up or appeal.
"The problem for residents is when you appeal you risk doubling the fine and that's one thing many couldn't afford - and hundreds were pressured into paying fines that should never have been levied."
Father-of-two Parmjit Jassal, 43, has sent the council his own bill for a fine he paid on the junction between South Road and Cambridge Road in Southall in April.
Parmjit, a customer services manager, said: "I have increased the amount I'm asking for to £120 as the council has not responded. I am playing it at its own game. All it is interested in is taking the money.
"I was in hospital having treatment for my slipped disc when the fine came ten days after I was photographed, and my wife paid it because she did not want the stress of it hanging over her.
"The reason I stopped is another driver had pulled out in front of me and was blocking the road, but it was only a matter of seconds."
Claire Vranch, a spokesman for Ealing Council, said the council has received no information from the Department for Transport (DfT) that the Greenford junction is unlawful and will not be issuing any refunds.
She said: "Box junctions do not need DfT consent, and the council and our specialist highway design consultants are confident box junctions in Ealing meet all the necessary guidance."
Have you been caught out on one of these box junctions and would likea refund?
If so e-mail us at email@example.com and head it "Ealing"
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Unfortunately, they cannot legally keep the money which has been 'unlawfully derived.'
Check out the restitution section on the ParkingAppeals.co.uk site and see how you can begin claiming a refund.
Council finally changes illegal parking bays
By Joanna Till
Hampshire County Council is set to re-mark Fleet Road’s parking bays after a national adjudicator ruled they were unenforceable.
Hart District Council stopped enforcing the parking regulations after the National Parking Adjudication Service (NPAS) ruled in March that the bays were not lawful and should not be adhered to.
The county council will now send contractors in the next few weeks to burn off the existing lines and paint new ones.
Fleet town centre manager Paul Doughty hopes the dis-trict council will then allow a small grace period for drivers to readjust to the enforcement of the regulations before it starts issuing penalty charge notices (PCNs) again.
“There won’t be a massive difference in the size of the bays, but once they are re-marked they will be enforceable,” said Mr Doughty.
“To be honest, I’m not sure most people will notice the difference.”
The March ruling came after former Hook resident Stephen Robson was issued a PCN in Fleet Road, even though the district council allegedly already knew the bays were illegally marked and not enforceable.
Mr Robson parked outside the Captured Moment shop in January last year, unaware parking was restricted because there were no signs and no yellow lines.
Mr Robson complained to the council, which said only goods vehicles were allowed to use the bays, and only at certain times of the day.
He appealed to the NPAS in October, when the adjudicator held that although Mr Robson’s arguments were correct the PCN should be upheld.
The NPAS accepted that Mr Robson’s case merited a review, which was heard in Winchester on March 6.
The adjudicator said: “I further conclude that the difference between what is required and what has actually been painted on the carriageway is so great that the bays in Fleet Road cannot be enforced.”
Cllr Stephen Parker, portfolio holder for the environment, said: “When the judgement came through we accepted it straight away and stopped fining people parked there.”
Campaigner Peter Ashford said he told the district council the restrictions were unlawful soon after they were introduced.
The district council informed the county council, which checked the bays, said there were no problems and insisted the restrictions should be enforced.
Cllr Parker said: “Until you have a judgment on these things they are only allegations.
“We cannot stop enforcing every time there is an allegation made, particularly when you have already been told by the county council that the bays are lawful.”
Mr Doughty said several challenges had been made since the restrictions were brought in, and it was possible there would be more once the bays were re-marked.
Restrictions concerning the bays marked for disabled people have not been enforced since the adjudicator’s decision.
Mr Doughty said: “I’ve had a lot of angry phonecalls over the past month or so from people who are entitled to park in those bays and who have not been able to do so because an able-bodied person is there instead.
“They’ve had to park a lot further away which has been very difficult for them.”
A series of BBC reports claimed councils including Hart had raised thousands of pounds from unlawful fines.
The Department for Transport told the BBC it expected the councils involved to “seriously consider” paying back the fines.Hart raised an estimated £400,000 by issuing the unlawful charges.
Cllr Parker said: “We have no plans to pay back the fines.”
The Tory-dominated district council decided on June 5 to reinstate free parking in Fleet town centre.
Exact details have not yet been decided, but early plans cite the possibility of 24 free bays in the Victoria Road, Church Road and Gurkha Square car parks.
Cllr Parker said: “Plans will be finalised soon but we’re quite certainly not looking to hang about.”
Parking in the bays would be restricted to 30 minutes, with no return within an hour, which Mr Doughty said would allow shoppers to go into Fleet to buy smaller items without paying for a full hour in the car parks.
“There’s a lot of people who want to just nip in quickly to buy a loaf of bread or something,” he said.
“They’re not even going to spend £1 in the shop they’re going to, yet they have to pay about the same again to park their car.
“It’s having such a negative effect on the town centre. All it does is drive people away from the centre and towards huge supermarkets with free parking.
“It’s bad news for town centre retailers.
“Parking in general has become really very expensive, especially with the rising costs of fuel and duty charges.
“This will encourage people back to the centre, and it will certainly have a very positive effect.”
20 June 2008
By John Prendergast
DRIVERS IN Southwark were allowed to pay parking fines they shouldn't - as the council maintained a practice they claimed to have abandoned more than eighteen months ago.
... and is set to get worse once all the restitution cases start to have an impact. The short term financial rewards that clouded the vision of the myopic council officers and elected members when they embarked upon decriminalised parking enforcement is now going to come back and haunt them. In the haste to implement the new 'cash-cow' proper checks and controls (signs, lines, Traffic Orders, contracts, paperwork compliance) were overlooked or disregarded.
As the net begins to close and councillors begin their own investigations it is only a matter of time before we see resignations and dismissals.
For all the council officials and Parking Attendants who were, and still are concerned at the activities that you have been asked to condone you can check out www.pcaw.co.uk or e-mail us in complete confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lancashire councils to be left with '£1.1m Parkwise bill'
By Tom Moseley
COUNCILS have been told they need to save more than £1million to retrieve the money lost by a "shambolic" parking ticket scheme.
A new audit of Parkwise, which controls parking enforcement in Lancashire, has revealed the true extent of its debts.
Bosses say the doomed arrangement between the county and 12 district councils cannot continue after experts said it was "not sustainable".
In January the Lancashire Telegraph revealed how the current model was to be scrapped when the contract with operator NCP expires in September 2009 because it was dogged by costly overheads, admin costs and bickering between council leaders.
The report, released tomorrow, looked at the year up to March.
- A financial black hole predicted for September 2009 has risen to £1.1million and will increase further if nothing is done.
- The cost to the scheme of handing out a parking ticket is more than £60 in some areas.
- To maintain the current model would cost the county council more than £300,000 a year.
- In some districts the scheme lost more than £200,000 last year.
- 1,401 tickets were cancelled due to "parking attendant error" in 2007/08.
- Almost 6,000 tickets are currently unpaid.
It has also been revealed five councils, including Burnley and Ribble Valley, have never even signed the agreement.
It has not yet been decided who will pick up the bill for the shortfall when the contract expires, and urgent meetings are being held between county and district finance chiefs to decide who is responsible.
Lancashire county council's cabinet member for resources Tony Martin said: "Our view is very clear.
"It's a district council scheme and we administer it.
"Their view is equally clear - it's a partnership scheme and we should pay for it."
Parkwise was set up in 2004 when councils took over control of parking enforcement from the police.
The county council is in charge of roads, and districts control off-street parking.
Parkwise covers both on and off street enforcement under a partnership agreement.
Council leaders will now be presented with a series of options for the future.
These include setting tough targets for district councils to save hundreds of thousands of pounds from its parking enforcement budget and form a new agreement after 2009.
This would need to be agreed by all councils by September 1, the report said.
But the county council's cabinet member for resources Tony Martin said: "Don't hold your breath.
"We do work together well on some projects, but if it costs more to issue a ticket than the amount you're getting back, we're all doomed.
"We will go our separate ways."
The most likely outcome is thought to be the county council taking over responsibility for highways and district councils patrolling car parks.
District councils would be offered the chance to pay the county for its wardens and back office facilities, Coun Martin added.
Parking campaigner Neil Herron said: "It's been a shambles from start to finish."
Friday, June 20, 2008
Game's up boys ... but don't think for one minute that 'Year Zero' is going to be created where those responsible are not held to account and all that unlawfully derived income is refunded.
We have more explosive information to come as more and more officials realise that they do not want to be held responsible for unwittingly becoming complicit in the unlawful actions of others.
COUNCIL ADMITS COLLECTING ON INVALID PARKING FINES PAST OWN 'FINISH' DATE
20 June 2008
By John Prendergast
DRIVERS IN Southwark were allowed to pay parking fines they shouldn't - as the council maintained a practice they claimed to have abandoned more than eighteen months ago.
The 'News' reported in February that the council's parking enforcement agency, APCOA, were collecting fines on void tickets and not refunding money to honest people who paid them. In their response a council spokeswoman claimed the practice had been abandoned eighteen months ago, but the 'News' has learnt that 157 tickets, coining the council £7,180, have been collected on since that date, including one as recently as January this year.
The council has said that although they instructed APCOA to cease the practice in August 2006, the contractors didn't follow the orders and continued to collect on tickets drivers should not have been paying. From September 2006 to April 2007 a Freedom of Information request shows that 136 tickets were collected on and none were refunded.
In the 2007/08 year a sea change seems to have started to occur with 21 payments collected on and fifteen refunded.
Southwark's opposition Labour spokesperson for Transport, Cllr Barrie Hargrove, said: "This is genuinely outrageous. Taking people's money for invalid tickets is one thing, but telling the public that you've stopped doing it when you quite clearly haven't is another matter entirely. It's dishonest and deceitful, there's simply no other way of putting it."
A Freedom of Information request by the 'News' in February revealed the practice had garnered the council £39,540.
The information regarding the continued practice was gained by Cllr Hargrove, who added: "Lib Dem council leader Nick Stanton now has to answer whether he knew that his spin doctors were telling fibs about this or if they'd been telling barefaced lies to him as well. Either way, when the council's been so dishonest, how can we believe that he won't re-authorise the practice in the future?"
The practice occurs when parking wardens issue a ticket but make an error on the form, therefore making it invalid according to strict parking regulations. However, despite entering the tickets as void on their computer system, the ticket will be set to active once again should the driver then pay the ticket. If the driver ignores the ticket then they are not chased for payment.
Since its articles in February the 'News' has made two attempts to gain information to publish, so drivers can appeal fines and get money back. On both occasions we were not permitted to have the information. We once again made a further request but were told it would not be released.
In response to the continued collection of invalid tickets, a council spokeswoman apologised for stating the practice had ceased. She said: "While it has been normal practice across London to accept payments made for 'spoiled' penalty charge notices (PCNs), we decided to end it in Southwark in 2006 and instructed our contractor to cease the practice. "We later discovered that our contractor had not followed our instructions, so we took action against them and the practice officially stopped in April 2007. The council has since taken steps to make sure this never happens again. We are confident that this issue has now been addressed and would like to apologise for the confusion our earlier statement around this matter may have caused.
She added: "A parking enforcement system is the most effective means of providing equitable use of limited parking space across the borough, and we believe that our policy is firm but fair."
APCOA were contacted directly for a response, but declined to make any further comment on the situation.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
18th June 2008
By Ellie Hargreaves
COUNCILLORS in Kirkby Lonsdale have questioned the legality of parking tickets dished out in the town.
The query - along with pleas for unlawful fines to be refunded - was raised following news that Sheffield City Council had agreed to give several motorists their money back.
Councillor Roger Taylor told a meeting of Kirkby Lonsdale Town Council tonight (Wednesday) that a number of yellow lines in the town were broken or unfinished and that parking attendants were breaking rules by handing out tickets.
Chairman Alan Day told the meeting: “One of the traffic wardens told me he couldn’t do his job because some of the lines are not right.”
“Are they not robbing people?” asked Coun Taylor. “They should be refunding that money
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Driver brings landmark case over Lancashire parking fine
By Tom Moseley
Lancashire Evening Post
THOUSANDS of parking fines could be torn up if campaigners win a landmark case, it has been claimed.
According to campaigners the case turns on the precise wording used on fine notices.
They said it could trigger refunds worth millions of pounds.
But bosses at Parkwise, the Lancashire-wide parking agreement between councils, said they were not aware of a problem and would await a judgment from a tribunal before commenting.
A woman from Chorley has brought a case against Park-wise with the help of parking ticket campaigner Neil Herron.
He claimed the "notice to owner", sent when a fine increases because it is not paid within 14 days, had been worded illegally for years until a recent revamp of traffic laws.
The case relates to notices issued before April 2008, when the new Traffic Management Act came into force.
Mr Herron, who has successfully challenged parking fines across the country, said:
"This would mean every notice to owner issued to drivers in Lancashire under the old regime is invalid and could be refunded."
He said drivers had been told to pay the £60 fine within 28 days of the date the notice was sent, which should have been the date it was received.
He added: "It effectively shortens the time period people have to respond. "
The case was adjourned yesterday at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal in Manchester to allow legal arguments to be prepared.
The case does not affect Blackburn with Darwen, which runs its own parking enforcement.
In January, the Lancashire Telegraph revealed Parkwise was to be scrapped when its contract expires in 2009 as it is expected to end up almost £1million in the red.
A spokeswoman said: "Until the facts are presented and a decision made by the independent adjudicator, we cannot investigate the specific details relating to this case."
"Following adjudication we will be in a position to seek relevant legal advice should it be required."
Saturday, June 14, 2008
... getting money back for the poor, beleaguered motorist?
This time it was in the form of Neil Herron and Parking Appeals assisting Nottingham solicitor Clive Burton with a few of his PCNs.
They hit the streets of Nottingham, just hours after the piece highlighting Parking Appeal's Alan Bangert's success in Sheffield, to highlight how illegal the restrictions were in Robin Hood's old stamping ground.
However, Nottingham's problem is far greater than their admission that 'refunds will only be made on the yellow lines identified as being non-compliant.'
Just so happens that all the signs in the pay and display bays also fall.
More to be revealed but in the meantime, watch the BBC piece here and read the Restitution Section on the Parking Appeals.co.uk front page.
And it's not just parking where serious errors occur...
Refund after speed fine error
About 130 motorists have been offered speed fine refunds because of an administrative error.
15 Jan 2008
Following closely on the heels of refunds in Sheffield and Nottingham and the exposure of Leeds unlawful enforcement practices relating to signing and paperwork non-compliance it now looks like the turn of the Lancashire authorities to have the tables turned.
The timing of Matthew Squires article in the Lancashire Evening Post could not have been better. By 5pm on Monday it is anticipated that local authorities across Lancashire will be checking their parking enforcement notices and taking advice from lawyers. We will reveal more on Monday but suffice to say that any motorist who has parted with any money for a parking ticket in Lancashire in the past six years should mark http://www.parkingappeals.co.uk/ as a 'favourite' ready for the revelations.
Fines double against Lancashire motorists
Published Date: 13 June 2008
By Matthew Squires
More than double the number of parking tickets have been slapped on Lancashire drivers since private traffic wardens were introduced, it has been revealed.
Campaigners today held the findings up as yet more evidence that council-run parking enforcement is about nothing more than making a "fast buck return".
Before local authorities took over full responsibility for parking, police took 48,706 "actions" across the county in 2002, including giving out parking tickets and written warnings and taking court proceedings.
Three years later, by which time councils had taken full responsibility, 108,771 parking tickets were dished out. The figure includes fines handed out by authorities in Blackpool and Blackburn. That would have raked in £6.5m, based on each ticket carrying a £60 fine – and the number of drivers hit with fines has continued to soar.
In the six months between April and September 2007, 57,868 tickets were issued by Parkwise across the Lancashire County Council area.
Friday, June 13, 2008
In Sunderland car thieves used to have to wait in the cold and then take a chance as to which car contained valuables. Loitering in the shadows, shivering chance to be spotted and having to strike at random.
Dave 'Friend of the car thief' Spikey now announces to the Sunderland criminal fraternity when the easy pickings have arrived.
Don't believe it? Watch it here.
No need to smash glass and leave an unsightly mess, simply jemmy the boot and straight to the pub.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
After Sheffield Council agreed to refund motorists £350,000 Rotherham are in the press today with another headline ... "U-turn over parking bays."
However, an e-mail sent to the Head of the Council's legal department still remains unanswered after our visit there in April. It has been re-sent today.
At the time we reported the fact that the on-street pay and display bays were incorrectly signed ... but couldn't get a ticket. To read the story click here
Credit where credit is due ... the CEOs in Rotherham that we met were very polite and courteous.
How soon before another Yorkshire council does the decent thing?
We will be reporting on the latest development in Leeds shortly.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
11 June 2008
By Tony Belshaw
Thumbs-up: Alan Bangert, right, celebrates his successful fight for a refund with Neil Herron Picture: Michael Waistell
THOUSANDS of drivers caught travelling through Hillsborough tramgates are to have their fines repaid.
More than 13,000 drivers could be refunded - meaning the council must hand back hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The council backed down in the face of a legal challenge and the move could set a precedent for local authorities across the country, possibly leading to millions being paid back in unjustly levied fines.
The huge U-turn came after Alan Bangert, of Wisewood, threatened to take the council to the High Court. Last month he won an appeal against his fines when the National Parking Appeals Service ruled warnings on Middlewood Road and Langsett Road were inadequate.
It told Sheffield highways bosses to stop fining motorists who drive through the tramgates until the signs were changed. But the council refused to pay back Alan the £30 they fined him after he was snapped going through the tramgates shortly after enforcement began last year. Council chiefs also told the 13,353 drivers fined at Hillsborough tramgates since July last year they would be keeping the £350,000 in fines.
Furious Alan hired experts from www.parkingappeals.co.uk who began preparing a legal challenge. Neil Herron, managing director of www.parkingappeals.co.uk, said:
"We approached the council and told them we were going to take them to court. They were told their signs weren't correct, yet they were still keeping the money."
That wouldn't stand up in a kangaroo court, never mind a court of law. We hope the council will now do the decent thing and repay their unlawfully derived income."
Mr Herron warned council chiefs he would take a two-pronged action against the authority unless it coughed up.
He threatened to take the council to court, and challenge its accounts through the District Auditor for containing unlawfully derived cash.
Married dad-of-three Alan, 43, said his mammoth fight to get back his money was worth it, and he would be donating the sum to the Bluebell Wood Hospice Appeal.
He said: "I am glad common sense seems to have prevailed and justice is seen to have been done."
Council leader Coun Paul Scriven insisted the decision had been in the pipeline - and hadn't been influenced by the threat of a legal appeal.
He said: "I have been listening to motorists from across the city and have heard their concerns. If drivers feel their fine was unfair then they can contact Parking Services and we will refund their fine."
I want common sense to prevail here. An independent adjudicator has reviewed seven appeals and felt the signs may not be as clear as they could be.''
He added refunds would relate to the Middlewood Road and Langsett Road end of the tram/bus gate - but not to fines for the Holme Lane bus lane.Enforcement at Hillsborough busgate should begin again in the next few months, once changes have been made to the signs.
Press Association Report here
Local man Alan Bangert had recently won a NPAS adjudication where it was ruled that the signs at the Hillsborough tram gate were misleading and confusing.
We met with the local press yeterday to announce that we were preparing legal action for restitution for the 13,353 motorists unlawfully fines (amounting to more than £320,000) but as we did we were contacted by Paul Scriven (Lib Dem leader of the council ... the Lib Dems had taken over from Labour at last month's elections) who confirmed that "the council were going to do the decent thing and refund all motorists."
The story is top news story on BBC Breakfast this morning after being revealed exclusively on BBC Look North by Alan Whitehouse last night.
Congratulations to the Lib Dem council for doing the decent thing. This is the first domino to topple ... now the others have two choices ... follow Sheffield's lead or end up in court.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
After the 2008 local council election victory in Sheffield, with the Lib Dems taking control from Labour, party leader Nick Clegg stated:
“ The Lib Dems would run Sheffield in a more open and honest way.”
(Sheffield Star 3rd May 2008)
The timing of Alan Bangert’s Tram Gate Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) victory (Bangert, Marcelli and others v Sheffield City Council before NPAS) could not have been better placed for the Lib Dems to set an example nationally by refunding motorists who have been fined unlawfully.
Local man Alan Bangert successfully challenged his own Hillsborough Tram Gate CCTV PCNs when a National Parking Adjudication Service (NPAS) adjudicator ruled that the restriction was unlawfully signed. A request of a review of that decision (consolidated with others) by Sheffield City Council was rejected by the Chief Adjudicator who agreed with the previous decision and ruled against the council.
This leaves the new ruling group with an easily solved dilemma. The Hillsborough Tram Gate, at Middlewood Road and Langsett Road, was introduced by the previous administration and had been marked unlawfully (ie. it did not comply with the road signing law, the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002).
The issue of councils using unlawful road markings and signs has been featured nationally in recent weeks with the Department for Transport stating that councils should ‘seriously consider refunding motorists fined unlawfully.’(BBC 29th May 2008)
So, what are the options for Sheffield’s new Lib Dem ruling group?
Neil Herron of ParkingAppeals.co.uk campaigns on behalf of motorists unlawfully fined and is leading Alan Bangert’s call for motorists to be refunded.
“ This really is an easily solved dilemma for the council. The simplest and cheapest option would be to apologise on behalf of the council and voluntarily refund everyone who have paid PCNs in the unlawfully signed restriction … without delay.
“ Councils are not allowed to keep the money derived from fining motorists unlawfully. They have benefited from what is called ‘unjust enrichment’ and as such they have a duty to actively seek out those fined and refund them.
Have you been fined and want your money back?
Monday, June 09, 2008
Of particular concern is the council's statement when asked about restitution ... "If they paid by cash there isn't a record."
Do they fall foul of money laundering regulations?
CITY PARKING: SOLICITOR FINDS PROBLEM WITH FINES
JON ROBINSON ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT
Nottingham Evening post
07 June 2008
It Didn't faze Ophir Burton when he received a parking ticket for leaving his car in Convent Street. In fact he knew he was likely to get one. But the 19-year-old student still parked there because it was more convenient than catching the bus to his course at the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies.
Despite being told he must pay £60 for failing to use the meter on February 18, he knew the council would not be able to make him cough up. That's because his grandfather Clive Burton - a solicitor with a special interest in parking and road restrictions - had noticed that the city council had not followed the national regulations in St Ann's Well Road, one of the roads entering the controlled parking zone.
Mr Burton challenged the ticket and successfully had it overturned. He also had a ticket issued on February 21 overturned for the same reason.
"I parked there out of convenience and knowing that, as my grandpa was telling me, it would be unenforceable," said Ophir, of West Bridgford.
"It was also to make a point on his behalf and rather than having to get the bus in or park outside town and walk in."It was just getting me to college on time."
Mr Burton has also advised other clients about the legal implications and has urged people to claim their money back. The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 state there must be signs on both sides of every single-carriageway road entering a controlled parking zone.
This means that if the single yellow lines don't have signs nearby telling people when parking is prohibited, the council has no legal power to enforce tickets.
Mr Burton said: "The requirements are very specific and mandatory." There must be a sign on either side of the carriageway. In St Ann's Well Road they is not. If the council doesn't keep to the rules, why should they expect the motorist to keep to the rules? And if the rules aren't kept why should motorists have to pay a penalty?"
It will be argued that this is simply a technical departure from the strict legal requirements."However the rules themselves are not only technical but mandatory and it has been laid down by Parliament that those in charge of producing and placing these signs must strictly and pedantically follow the exact requirements so clearly set out in the Directions."
Caroline Stylianou, service manager for traffic management and development control at the city council, said: "On St Ann's Well Road there should be a sign on both sides of the road."
We have suspended enforcement on single yellow lines without signs."But there are places, like Derby Road, that do have signs for the single yellow. If an individual parks on there at a restricted time they will be ticketed and towed away and can be done so legally."
Ms Stylianou added the controlled parking zone was introduced before the city council became the Highway Authority in 1998 and there was no complete record of how many parking tickets have been issued.
But she said the council would go back through its database if asked by motorists. "We will look at cases decide on them on an individual basis," she said.
If they paid by cash there isn't a record". It is only a receipt which doesn't have their address. If they paid by card there is a record."
The story below if Mr. James' allegations are supported with the evidence, which should not be too difficult to find MUST end up in court.
Parking fine row steps up
by John Kirk
Parking enforcement firm ParkRight has been reported to police by a Shrewsbury motorist after bosses had a sign in the town moved during a row over a £60 parking ticket.
Last weekend the Shropshire Star revealed how Mr James, of Whitchurch Road, had fought a year-long battle to have the parking ticket cancelled.
It was revealed that ParkRight met council bosses three months after the ticket was issued to ask them to move a sign, the positioning of which was central to the argument.
The battle came after he was issued a ticket after a “zone ends” sign in the pedestrianised Claremont Hill in May last year.
The county council instructed contractors to remount the sign further along the pavement, bringing the area where the car was parked inside the restricted zone.
Through a Freedom of Information request filed by Mr James it was revealed that the sign was moved on August 22.
Mr James appealed twice and finally won a third appeal after showing what he had uncovered to the adjudicator. He was awarded more than £400 in compensation.
Today Mr James said he had informed police because he believes the rules should be enforced fairly.
He said he was not against parking enforcement.
He warned: “I think people should be aware of what’s going on and something should be done to rectify it.”
Mr James said: “I wondered if the police might be interested in this and if I could report them for any offences. I have given a statement to police and they will consider whether any charges will be brought.”
Police said today they could not comment because of data protection laws.
ParkRight is a partnership of the county council and Shropshire’s district and borough councils.
The county council has previously said an investigation would be carried out into the matter.
No-one from ParkRight was available for comment today.
Traffic Wardens employed to enforce parking restrictions under 'criminalised' regimes differ in terms and conditions from those employed by council's contracted enforcement agents operating in 'decriminalised' enforcement areas.
This enforcement allows councils to keep the revenue generated and although always denied, the contracts with the private 'for profit' enforcement companies who employ the Attendants are target driven.
However, they have always denied that the Parking Attendants, now called Civil Enforcement Officers, were paid bonuses but since the 'Soldiers v Wardens' row over pay GMB National Officer Paul Maloney has unwittingly revealed that 'Traffic Wardens' receive bonuses for the number of tickets they issue.
In an e-mail Paul Maloney, GMB national officer who represents traffic wardens said,
"GMB support decent pay and conditions for our armed forces. However if the general is to make the case for better pay he should compare apples with apples.
Many GMB members who are traffic wardens are paid the national minimum wage of about "£11,000 per year. They receive bonuses for the number of tickets they give out and their average pay includes long hours of overtime.
"There is no national agreement for traffic wardens. Many of them are out sourced and work for private equity owned companies from the information that GMB has to hand, we believe that soldiers are paid more than many of the traffic wardens that we represent."
So there you have it from the horse's mouth.
You knew the real reason for the massive increase in parking tickets. You now know why they are issued for the most trivial of reasons. You now know that the chanted mantra about civil parking enforcement being necessary to stop the streets being clogged and to keep traffic moving is baloney.
This is about raising money for private companies who pay their staff peanuts in order to ensure that they are incentivised to issue enough tickets to survive and look after themselves and their families.
After the exposure of the fines issued by councils for illegal restrictions another death knell sounds for this offensive, exploitative stealth taxing that passes off for parking enforcement it is now time that Government started sitting down to consider what is going to replace it ... otherwise any grains of respect left for the system will disappear and it will reach the point where no-one will pay any fines levied.
Private equity owned NCP fixes daily targets for parking fines and bullies and harasses staff to penalise London motorists to meet targets: GMB strike in Enfield NCP for union recognition and end to harassment
"Our bonus is paid quarterly, based on a ticket count. At 10am every morning and 4pm every afternoon they phone up to check ticket counts. There is immense pressure if the bosses don't think there are enough tickets issued. They think if we don't get the right number according to the performance indictors then there's something wrong, they just want the tickets issued regardless." GMB member on strike who works for 3i on the NCP parking contract in Enfield
‘NCP services, which is owned by 3i, is proposing to slash the bonus scheme of its low paid workforce in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
‘Parking attendants who only earn £6.29 per hour currently receive a bonus of £100.00 per month.‘
Without consultation or regard to TUPE regulations, the management at NCP have given notice that they are going to introduce a discretionary bonus.
‘Staff can earn a maximum of £250.00 per quarter but this is linked to performance, including the number of tickets issued!‘
Experience from the NCP Enfield contract shows that staff and motorists will be the losers, as parking attendants will put under severe pressure to issue more tickets to London’s motorists in order to make up their pay.’
Is the solution to send Civil Enforcement Officers to search out the Taliban with the same level of efficiency as they can demonstrate when looking for a motorist committing a contravention?
I am sure that no-one would disagree with paying them double bonus for that!
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Well, they have already cancelled one of mine because the restriction was not marked in accordance with the law, and we will have a little fun with an adjudication next week.
In addition to this highly misleading statement however, documents in our position refer to a report commissioned in 2005 in which expert witness and signing consultant Richard Bentley (left) highlights many area of deficient and unlawful signage ... and as such the Secretary of State was misled into granting Decriminalised Parking Enforcement powers to Leeds who have then taken advantage and 'unjustly enriched' the council's coffers.
Government Office and Department for Transport officials also confirmed the restrictions were unlawful and have recently stated that nothing has changed, if anything its got worse.
Don't think we are right about the refunds ( especially all you doubting council officials ... we know you like to watch what we are up to ... sometimes one of your colleagues tips us off)?
Just imagine all those who have suffered at the hands of bailiffs and had goods seized all arising from an unlawfully marked restriction enforced with non-compliant paperwork.
If you have had a parking ticket in the last 6 years simply register with us to receive the latest updates.
The first report is the national story, the second is our ongoing saga in Leeds.
Ask yourself the question why the Department for Transport has made such a powerful statement. Are they aware of the firestorm?
Just remember that no-one at the DfT is able to go out and check the council's claims when they apply for Decriminalised (of now Civil) Parking Enforcement powers. Councils simply had to 'reassure' the DfT that all had been done ... but the councils realising that the DfT had no power to check or censure decided that it wasn't worth spending vast sums of money putting things right ... so the majority didn't.
This is a national scandal ... the enormity of which is just starting to become apparent to the national press and media ... and we anticipate the downfall of Civil Parking Enforcement, dismissals, resignations and criminal actions as the dam breaks ... followed by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of civil actions against councils.
Council motoring fines 'illegal'
The parking adjudicator urged drivers to appeal
Some councils have earned hundreds of thousands of pounds by enforcing unlawful traffic and parking restrictions, the BBC has learned.
Fines are said to have been levied despite incorrect road markings and on parking bays which are too small.
The Department for Transport said it expected councils to "seriously consider" repayment of illegal fines.
A councils spokesman said refunds may not be the best use of public money "where no-one was genuinely misled".
A councillor has highlighted one north London authority's past activities, which he described as "highway robbery".
Alan Stanton, Labour councillor in Haringey, said the borough ticketed two yellow box junctions in Tottenham, north London, which were found to be unlawful.
Some of the unlawful restrictions that caused fines
"We have taken £120,000 from people we had no right to take," he said.
Haringey council said that when it discovered the boxes were illegal it stopped enforcing them and gave refunds to motorists who appealed.
The BBC has also discovered the entrance to a bus and tram lane which was incorrectly marked has earned Sheffield City Council £350,000, according to Freedom of Information figures.
Meanwhile, London Borough of Camden collected over £245,000 from drivers for who drove down a pedestrianised street which a ruling found was signposted unclearly.
According to barrister Oliver Mishcon, who specialises in motoring cases, local authorities have been acting unlawfully.
They should pay us back for their mistakes
He told the BBC: "It's definitely a massive problem, definitely on a national scale, and we're talking about councils making tens of millions of pounds.
"From a legal point of view, the term is unjust enrichment. And if the council unjustly enriches itself, it's got to pay the money back."
Nick Lester from London Councils, which represents authorities in the capital, argued that handing the cash back was not necessarily in the public interest.
He said: "Where there's only a technical error, a small issue, where no-one was genuinely misled, the council can take the view, is it really a good use of public money to repay the penalty?
"Is that really what they should be doing?"
Appeals against penalty charge notices are heard by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
Caroline Sheppard, Chief Parking Adjudicator for the tribunal in England and Wales, said motorists should appeal if they believe they have been wrongly fined.
But she said that many motorists would not want to take the risk of taking their case to tribunal because it would mean losing their 50% discount - and that the onus was on local authorities to put things right.
"Adjudicators would expect them to stop enforcing in that area until such a time as they put it right - councils ought to be able to correct these things very swiftly," she added.
Figures show that last year 60% of all appeals outside London were successful: 32% were not contested by councils and 28% were won by motorists. In London in the year to March 2007, 68% of appeals were successful.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Council's Have No Talent
When they visited Yorkshire no-one showed any sign of competence in the parking department.
However, not wanting to be overshadowed by other local councils like Leeds, Harrogate, York and Scarborough featured on the BBC (story posted below) ... Huddersfield jumped in with a performance that ensured three XXX's ... vying for a place in the regional semi finals.
The report below had the crowds going wild ...
Oh, Mr Mayor, you can’t park there!
Jun 2 2008 by Nick Lavigueur, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
KIRKLEES parking chiefs have been left red-faced after it emerged Huddersfield Town Hall’s permit parking bay is illegal.
The Ramsden Street bay fails Government rules on various counts, with the sign and road markings both failing to conform to regulations.
A simple search on the Government Transport Department’s website would have revealed that only white markings are allowed for permit holder bays and not the yellow used for the council’s private space.
And Kirklees could be further embarrassed after it emerged that dozens of parking bays across the district are unlawful, including most of Batley town centre and parts of Dewsbury and Holmfirth.
The council refused to comment, but a highways department statement said:
“We will look into issues with parking spaces if the details of the location and problem are reported directly to us.” More ...
Well, looks like we had better do our civic duty and the letter has gone off to Kirklees Council asking them to suspend enforcement of all non-compliant bays immediately, to begin the process of offering refunds without delay and to make public their application to the Department for Transport which confirmed that all restrictions were signed in accordance with the law.
Expert explains parking law
Motoring lawyer Oliver Mishcon explains what effects the government advice about illegal parking fines could have.
Illegal parking fines row
The government says councils should consider giving back money collected from illegal parking fines.
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