Monday, October 06, 2008

Tom Conti leads for the Motorists Legal Challenge Fund

Screen star Tom takes on role as parking fine fighter
By Bob Smyth
Sunday Post

MOVIE star Tom Conti is leading the charge to raise a fighting fund for a court challenge to parking tickets.

The Scottish actor is a patron of the newly formed Motorists Legal Challenge Fund. Campaigners lodged a claim at the High Court in London at the end of last month seeking permission to apply for a judicial review that could force councils to scrap parking tickets worth millions of pounds.

Tom (66) has become involved because he’s a founder of the Motorists Action Group in London, where he is a long-term resident.He has put some of his own cash into the fund, which is backing the challenge to fines issued by councils across the UK. They include six local authorities in Scotland — Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth & Kinross, Dundee, Aberdeen and South Lanarkshire.


The Paisley-born actor, who starred in the film Shirley Valentine and TV series Donovan, became a campaigner after he suffered “an unpleasant incident with some bailiffs” over a ticket and because he thinks the treatment of motorists is extremely unjust.

He said, “I just hate unfairness in government and there’s a vast amount being perpetrated against anybody with a vehicle — and that’s an awful lot of people. “The local authorities are supposed to be there to help the people rather than harass them, but at the moment people are being harassed.”

He doesn’t consider himself a political person but admits his high profile can help the cause.

“Politics and the whole right-wing, left-wing thing is nonsense. There’s only common sense really and an understanding of what human beings are — and they do not want to be dictated to,” he said.

The case against the councils is being spearheaded by Sunderland campaigner Neil Herron, who runs the Parking Appeals website.Neil (45) has remortgaged his £200,000 home to raise £60,000 for the fight and says Tom Conti’s backing is vital.He said, “Tom has dipped into his own pocket to help and he is a very active supporter.


“We are speaking to another well-known TV personality who may agree to become a patron alongside Tom.”

Neil claims that many parking tickets are invalid because of flaws in the regulations that cover Controlled Parking Zones. CPZs were designed to cut down on parking sign clutter by having a notice at an entry point that applies restrictions to several streets.

Neil argues the legislation that created CPZs states that every road must be marked with single or double yellow lines or with parking spaces. He claims a strict interpretation of the wording means any CPZ that contains other markings, such as zig-zags, bus lanes, pelican or zebra crossings, is unlawful and parking tickets issued there are invalid.

He said, “Ultimately, we hope to force councils to cancel unpaid CPZ tickets and suspend enforcement within the zones until they’re legal. “We’ll have to mount a separate challenge to get councils to refund fines that have already been paid so we’re trying to raise £1 million to pursue that and other cases.”

A spokeswoman for Sunderland City Council, which is contesting the action on behalf of all local authorities, said, “It would not be appropriate to comment at this stage.”.


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Anonymous said...

I hope that this review is successful, and the Councils are prosecuted to the full extent of the law for the acts which they have done to the British Motorist.

Greg D said...

The following email was sent in July 2008 to Merton Council's Director Lyn Carpenter (now replaced) with copy to Chief Executive Ged Curran. Neither responded:

Cost of living is on a rapid rise, especially for basics such as food and fuel. The 2008 Council Tax increase far exceeded the inflation rate. Stealth taxes are increasing. Unemployment is accelerating.

Yet, in these tough times, your Council decides to increase the cost of yet another basic --parking.

Are Council members disconnected from the real world? One could easily argue the answer is yes given your guaranteed employment, guaranteed income no doubt indexed to inflation, and benefits including a comfy pension and I think no-cost parking at work.

From the yellow bulletin, I calculated increases from 17% to 50%. These are huge increases measured by any standard. If Council was managing a business, all Council members would be fired.

re: Belvedere Ave, a parking area rarely filled: I park at £1.00/hr, soon at £1.50/hr, yes folks a 50% increase, and walk a few blocks to shop/dine in Wimbledon Village centre -- instead of parking in the centre at £1.80/hr, which is already prohibitive and to worsen to a mind-numbing £2.20/hr.

One example consequence: assuming an £8 lunch within one hour, the parking fee adds 28% to the cost of lunch -- this is absurd.

So, it is the timing, the amounts and the underlying mindset of the increases that are each so incredulous. The disconnected timing truly sends a signal of arrogance. The huge percentage increases cement the notion of arrogance. Shame!

I formally request that you please send your detailed justification for these outrageous parking fee increases as well as the detail for the planned uses of the receipts.

Additional comments:

Most residential roads are in terrible shape with bone-jarring bumps, dents and holes -- exacerbated by sloppy repair work. How can this happen especially given the high Council taxes levied by the Council?
Why are parking fees 80% greater in the centres? This is not citizen friendly -- it is onerous.
Did the Council ever consider reducing parking fees to help ease the burden of the rising cost of living instead of adding more cost pressure?

I look forward to receiving the requested information/data and answers to the three above mentioned questions.


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