Tuesday, July 22, 2008

District Auditors asked to investigate councils ...

... is that the Grim Reaper knocking at Parking Services' door?

As the Civil Parking Enforcement meltdown continues across the country with more and more councils being caught out using illegal signs and lines and non-compliant paperwork many angry motorists are looking to expose their councils unlawful activity.

But there is no Government Watchdog.

There is no Parking Ombudsman.

The Department for Transport is toothless and fiddling while Rome burns, and in a state of turmoil ... do they support the councils and burn TSRGD or do they stand by the law and tell councils they have broken it?
Councils are desperate to have their illegal signs 'authorised' but at what cost? The admission that most of the parking bays are illegal and therefore unenforceable ... and more objections and more legal action?

The Minister however, thinks that everything is Rosie ... but why should she try and solve a mess of nightmare proportions when the Government is ready to call in the priest for the Last Rites?

So what can you, the aggrieved motorist and council tax payer do to expose the illegal activity of your council?

The answer is simple ... you can object to the accounts and object to any unlawfully derived or 'ultra-vires' income contained in those accounts, whether it be from illegal restrictions or non-compliant paperwork or from a failure to follow contractual obligations.

You can Click here to access a guide and an objection letter.

Councils are supposed to exercise due diligence when carrying out parking enforcement, especially with regard to their cancellation policies, and the collection and enforcement of PCNs. More evidence is coming in to us of councils who are cancelling tickets when non-compliance is pointed out by an appellant, but continuing to collect from those unaware of the law. Our recent case against a Lancashire Council was 'no contested' after our skeleton argument revealed unlawful documentation ... but the council has not volunteered refunds to those motorists who have been misled by unlawful paperwork.

Councils do not need reminding that restrictions and paperwork MUST comply with the law ... whether it be the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 or the 1991 Road Traffic Act or the new Traffic Management Act 2004.
There is no excuse for them getting it wrong ... especially with teams of highly paid officers and highways engineers.

Don't forget that when they applied to the Department for Transport for Decriminalised or Civil Enforcement powers they had to conduct a review of their Traffic Orders and associated signs and lines in order to ensure compliance. This is where they knew that the DfT had no power to check ... and so many councils misled the DfT in their applications. It would have cost too much to correct everything and the DfT wouldn't check ... so who would find out?

Well guys ... the game is up and the deceit is being uncovered and the chickens are coming home to roost. Motorists who have been fleeced by councils' illegal activity will be rather angry indeed that they have been deceived, especially the ones who have had the bailiffs come to visit and cars and goods taken.

Chanting the mantra that there is an appeals process is not good enough ... because that only works if the council has obeyed the law. If the signs or paperwork are illegal there can be no contravention. If the council KNEW (and there is a vicarious liability for the Chief Executive for the actions of his officers) then it becomes a lot more serious indeed ... and that is why the whistleblowers are whistling. They do not want to be the scapegoats for those higher up the ladder.

If any council officer knowingly misrepresents the situation then it becomes a very serious matter indeed ... hence a number of individuals across the country preparing cases for the Police and their own civil actions against individual council officers who, it appears, may not be protected by any council insurance policy. Perhaps Parking Services Managers should be hastily bringing their misdemeanours to the attention of their Chief Executives and elected Members and confessing their sins ... because the consequences of not doing so could be very grave indeed.

The public has had enough of being fleeced for the most minor of contraventions ... and because they have been treated with arrogant contempt for many years by councils and their officers who have seen them as an easy stealth tax victim there are many who will shed no tears when the dismissals for misconduct and legal action begins.

The long memories of disabled badge holders being ticketed for having a clock upside down, the motorists with a £100 penalty for being 2 minutes late, the car clamped and towed for parking a couple of inches over a yellow line will not care a jot for the crocodile tears of the Draconian parking enforcement apologists.

Let's hope the cry of mea culpa comes before the courts begin to be filled rather than after.

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