Monday, September 15, 2008

Essex - Thurrock - Problems with appeals process

Any Council outside London issuing tickets under the Traffic Management Act 2004 should have joined a new joint committee PATROL AJC to enable access to adjudication services via the Traffic Penalty tribunal (TPT) (used to be known as NPAS).

The closing date for joining the committee was at the beginning of June, however Thurrock appears to have missed the boat and confirmed this on 06 August in cabinet papers approving the decision to seek authority to become a member of PATROL AJC.

These papers also confirmed only 1 appeal to the adjudicator had been received which the Council had not contested. What the report doesn't say is that the Council couldn't contest the ticket at adjudication because it had no extant arrangements in place to do so. Therefore every ticket issued by the Council (between implementation of TMA & joining the PATROL AJC) has contained potential prejudice to the recipients by claiming there was the opportunity to challenge the ticket by adjudication, in reality no such right existed.

Other Councils legal opinion on implementing the PATROL AJC arrangements specifically point out the potential legal risks of not joining the committee in time

Coventry City Council 20 May 2008 Appointment to the Parking and Traffic Regulation Outside London Adjudication Joint Committee "Failure to join the new joint committee by 02/06/08 will mean that the enforcement authority will have no adjudication arrangements in place to enable anyone receiving a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) to appeal against the Council's decision to reject any formal representation. This would be in breach of the legislation and ultimately could render invalid any PCN that was issued after the 2nd June 2008. “

Luton 06 05 08 TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT ACT 2004 - ADJUDICATION JOINT COMMITTEE "Not to participate in the proposed new joint committee would leave the Council in breach of its legal obligations under the 2004 Act to make provision for an effective and impartial adjudication service. "

Nottingham 14 05 08 Traffic Management Act 2004 PATROL Adjudication Service "If this Agreement is not signed, by the date referred to in 6 above, then Nottingham City Council will be without an Adjudication Service and therefore challenges to the tickets that are issued by the Authority cannot be resolved. Nottingham City would then have to cease enforcement until an Adjudication service had been secured."

Like all aspects of TMA 2004's implementation it has all been a bit last minute & rushed & mistakes have & continue to be made.

it is still unclear whether Thurrock has succeeded in joing PATROL AJC yet, in the article below it claims arrangements will be in place from the 18th August. Independent confirmation is required.

The Thurrock Gazette ran the story - Parking tickets wrangle

THURROCK Council traffic chiefs could be left red-faced after a parking blunder might see them have to repay any fines issued to motorists in the borough since April.

That bill could be as high as £150,000 based on the average number of tickets issued by the authority’s traffic officers.

The potential blunder came to light when Thurrock Council’s Cabinet were asked to approve membership of a new traffic parking authority PATROLAJC at a meeting last week.

The Council took over responsibility for issuing tickets when parking offences were decriminalised in April, but they should have signed up the PATROLAJC at the time in order to ensure the legality of any tickets issued.

Anyone issued with a ticket has the right to appeal, initially to the Council, but then to the independent PATROLAJC.

Now parking campaigners say that because Thurrock has not signed up to the new body, anyone issued with a ticket could not appeal, therefore the ticket was not legally enforceable.

In a report to the Cabinet officers admit that they could not contest the one appeal they have received and the alleged offender was reimbursed.

Now the Council could face a backlog of appeals according to campaigner Simon Aldridge of Parking Appeals Ltd (

He said: “In essence every ticket Thurrock has issued taking responsibility for tickets has contained potential prejudice for the recipient, in that each ticket claims to offer the recipient the opportunity to appeal to an independent adjudicator. In reality no such opportunity exists.

“I think the public have been misled here by the Council which should have – and still should - suspend enforcement pending an agreement being entered into to provide the public with an adjudication service.”

Senior councillors did back the application to join PATROLAJC at their meeting last week, but Mr Aldridge says there is still good reason for anyone who has been issued with a ticket recently to make a legitimate claim to get their money back.

A Council spokesperson said: “Thurrock Council is aware of its responsibilities under the Traffic Management Act 2004 to have an independent adjudication service in place to consider appeals.

Appropriate arrangements have been approved by the council and will be in place as from Monday, August 18. “The Council does not accept that the parking tickets are invalid as suggested by Parking Appeals Ltd.”

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