Sunday, July 13, 2008

Kirklees councillor admits council broke the law ...

... but no refunds because ignorance appears to be a perfectly good excuse.

"Clr David Hall, told the Examiner that no motorists would be getting their money back because the council didn’t realise it was breaking the law."

Is it any wonder the public are starting to get fed up to the back teeth with politicians when they witness this breathtaking arrogance?

Looks like this is going to be the common plea in all of Huddersfield's Magistrates from burglars, shoplifters, rapists and the like ...'we didn't realise that we were breaking the law ... can we go?'

I am sure that the Police and the District Auditor will be invited to get involved ... and hopefully some local politicians with a sense of decency and integrity.

New twist in the bitter row over ‘illegal’ parking bays
Jul 12 2008 by nick lavigueur,

Huddersfield Examiner

ANOTHER parking row is erupting after a former councillor alleged Kirklees Council sent him false information in an official Freedom of Information (FOI) response.

The accusation comes after a Kirklees Highways officer insisted a parking bay on Victoria Street, Holmfirth was not illegal only for the bay to be modified a six days later.

Ex-Kirklees councillor, Jeremy Fisher, wrote to the council in mid May claiming the bay outside HSBC Bank, was incorrectly marked with double white lines at each end.
In his FOI request he asks: ‘When was this unlawful parking bay brought into use?’

The response from Kirklees on May 28 was: Kirklees Council does not believe this parking bay to be unlawful, the date this bay first came into operation was 11.9.1988’.

Yet a few days later on June 3 the bay was re-lined with single lines to conform with the Department for Transport (DfT) guidelines for bays that do not have individual spaces.

Mr Fisher also asked: ‘From your records when was the last time this illegal parking bay was inspected by Kirklees Council officers?’

Again council officers said: ‘Kirklees Council does not consider this parking bay to be illegal. It was last inspected on the 12.5.2008.’

Mr Fisher, said: “At first they wrote back and said it was illegal and then they went and corrected it.Two other bays on Victoria Road have also been altered.
“They are charged at the council to do everything by the book, but they could be open to being charged with deceiving me. They’re going to have to start answering questions truthfully,”
he added.

Mr Fisher’s FOI also claimed that that 17 parking tickets had been issued in the bay from July 2006, the point when Kirklees adopted parking enforcement powers from the police, to May 2008.

The Ministry of Justice, the government department responsible for FOI, said they did not comment on individual cases but a spokeswoman did say: “Anyone making a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act who is not happy with a response is entitled to an internal review.
“This involves an independent person assessing the decision on disclosure or the nature of the response received.
“If the applicant is still not happy with the outcome of the internal review, he or she may make a complaint to the information commissioner’s office.
“All public servants are expected to act in good faith and in the spirit of the act to provide accurate and comprehensive answers to requests made.”

A Kirklees Council spokesman claimed the FOI response had been issued after the bay had been corrected:
Their statement said: Kirklees has not provided any false information in a Freedom of Information request. We received the request on May 9 which gave details of lining of a parking bay on Victoria Street. We inspected this on the May 12 and took steps to correct the lining and also remark worn lines. This work was completed on June 3. No parking tickets were issued between the May 12 and 3 June on this bay.
“Our response to the FOI request was issued on the June 25.
“We maintain that we have not knowingly issued parking fines in areas we know to be unenforceable and as a general principle, it is reasonable for a council to assume that if someone has paid a parking ticket then they accept the fine.”

The claims come only days after council highways spokesman, Clr David Hall, told the Examiner that no motorists would be getting their money back because the council didn’t realise it was breaking the law.

Clr Hall claimed that parking enforcement had been suspended at any unlawful bays the council had been aware of and so car-owners had not been knowingly fined in unlawful parking zones.
But as reported in the Examiner on June 27, Kirklees had already compiled a list of almost 100 unlawful bays awaiting correction, including some where motorists are known to be still getting tickets.
The Express & Chronicle rang Clr Hall to see if he had changed his mind but he was not available for comment.

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