Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Glasgow fiddles and spins over £4m parking ticket write off

In what must rank as this year's most disgraceful piece of dishonesty, and one which would make Pinocchio blush, Glasgow City Council completely misrepresents the reason why £4m worth of parking tickets have been written off.

However, the truth is out there and any evasion will only lead to further investigation and exposure.

But ... if Glasgow's claims regarding DVLA are correct then this will cast doubt on the validity of EVERY Penalty Charge Notice.

Letter to the council follows the article.

Council writes off £4m of parking tickets
Glasgow Herald
July 29 2008

Scotland's largest local authority has admitted that around £4m due on 60,000 parking unpaid fines will almost certainly never be recovered.
The total is also growing by around £500,000 a year as more illegal parkers dodge the penalties.
The admission from Glasgow City Council comes after thousands of penalty charge notices issued in Scotland's four main cities between 1998 and 2006 were left with a legal question mark over them. The notices were flawed because they did not bear both the date of issue and the date of the offence, as is legally required.

The format of the notices has since been changed, but the mistake led to Edinburgh City Council in effect writing off around £6.5m in unpaid fines by telling sheriff officers not to pursue 70,000 unpaid tickets. It also cancelled a further 4327 and did not pass them to sheriff officers.

In Aberdeen £2.5m worth of fines imposed between 2003 and 2006 were wiped.
Glasgow City Council originally said in February 2006 that its outstanding ticket total was 71,315, worth £5.6m, but later that year it revised its figure and said there were just 11,000 outstanding, worth £580,000.

Now, in an answer to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the council has said the 60,000 difference was because "many of the previous cases going back several years have now been identified as unrecoverable and inactive".

The request was made by a regular contributor to the Pepipoo website, established to help motorists defend themselves against parking and speeding fines.

It means that between £3.1m and £4.7m in parking fines has effectively been written off. A spokesman for the local authority has since confirmed that it did not expect to collect the money for these tickets unless the offenders volunteered it.

The spokesman said it was wrong to assume that this was a blanket write-off of single-date penalty charge notices and said it was predominantly because of inaccurate details which are held by the DVLA.

But one of the campaigners against illegal parking charges said: "This is quite clearly because of the illegal single-date tickets, no matter what the councils say."

The council spokesman said: "This is not the case. We take advice from our recovery agents on every outstanding ticket to determine which ones we consider recoverable. The most common reasons are incorrect or out-of-date information registered with the DVLA and a failure to trace the individual.
"To put the figure in context, the 60,000 issued between 1999 and 2006 that are considered unrecoverable amount to little more than 5% of the notices issued.
"Although it is possible that many of those penalty charge notices (PCN) considered unrecoverable are also single-date tickets, we would not write them off for that reason and any unpaid single-date PCN not considered unrecoverable for another reason would still be on our system."

He said the statutory document was sent out to the registered keeper of the car involved in the parking offence, as provided by DVLA, and if that was not paid then a charge certificate was issued. If that was not paid it was passed to sheriff officers.

A spokesman for the DVLA said: "A recent survey highlighted that 94.5% of all vehicle keepers on DVLA's database can be contacted using DVLA's records. Also, 83.8% of all records contained no errors. Errors could be due to a number of factors, for example failure to notify DVLA of a change in vehicle colour or address."

George Black
Chief Executive
Chief Executive Department
Glasgow City Council
City Chambers
George Square
G2 1DU

Dear Mr. Black

In the edition of the Glasgow Herald dated 29th July 2008 a Glasgow City Council spokesman, in relation to the story regarding the writing off of £4m worth of Penalty Charge Notices, said:

"any unpaid single-date PCN not considered unrecoverable for another reason would still be on our system."

I would appreciate clarification of this statement, and confirmation of the following:

(1) Does 'on the system' mean they are on the system being pursued or on the system because they have been written off?
Are ANY single date Penalty Charge Notices are being pursued? If so, please clarify the legal basis for doing so as Justice Jackson stated that single date PCNs are a nullity from which no financial liability arises.

(2) What is the total value of income derived by Glasgow City Council from single date PCNs AFTER the High Court decision Barnet v The Parking Adjudicator [2006] EWHC 2357 (Admin).

(3) Please provide copies of all communications (written, telephone, e-mail) regarding issues arising from the above Barnet v The Parking Adjudicator [2006] EWHC 2357 (Admin) decision and on what date were the Glagow City Council PCNs changed to include two dates?

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Herron

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