Sunday, December 20, 2009
We have evidence of malpractice in every one of the councils listed below.
The High Court case detailed at www.motoristslegalchallenge.co.uk will create the focus.
Other matters will come into the public domain in a matter of weeks.
GREEDY councils are exploiting motorists by raking in almost £2 BILLION a year in parking fees and fines.
News of the World
20th December 2009
Last year drivers paid a record £1.9bn to town halls in England - 8 per cent up on the previous year and TREBLE the £638m for 1997/98 when Labour came to power.
That means around £60 a year is going straight from the pocket of every motorist into town hall coffers. Experts fear councils are ripping off car owners to plug gaps in their finances as the squeeze on public spending tightens.
The revenue bonanza is biggest in areas like central London and Brighton where parking is scarcest - and many town halls are believed to make most of their money in fines.
Figures released by the Department of Communities and Local Government do not differentiate between meter charges and penalties.
But a spokesman said: "Parking charges are a tool to manage demand for road use and should not be used for raising revenue.
Jennifer Dunn of the Taxpayers' Alliance said: "Motorists are being treated like cash cows. Too often we see unscrupulous and target-driven enforcement of parking."
Top ten revenue earners in London:
1. Westminster £180m
2. Camden £80m
3. Kensington & Chelsea £77m
4. Islington £55m
5. Wandsworth £51m
6. Hammersmith & Fulham £47m
7. Lambeth £40m
9. Ealing £30m
10. Hackney £29m.
Top ten elsewhere:
1. Brighton & Hove £38m
2. Birmingham £24m
3. Manchester £20m
4. Leeds £19m
5. Milton Keynes £16m
6. Newcastle upon Tyne £15m
7. Kent £15m
8. Bristol £14m
9. Liverpool £14m
10. City of Nottingham £13m.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009, 07:00
OTFORD shoppers have hit out at a traffic warden who slapped parking tickets on windscreens – while blocking the traffic in the village's High Street.
Passers-by said a Sevenoaks District Council car parked on a single yellow line caused an unnecessary queue of traffic, and delayed a police car responding to an emergency siren.
The traffic warden was giving out parking tickets to drivers who were also parked in the road.
Ivonne Kaina, of London Road, Dunton Green, said she was "infuriated" by the situation, which she became aware of when she was shopping on Saturday (December 5) between 2 and 3pm.
She said: "I heard someone complaining that they got a ticket.
"We heard a police siren and when I looked out of the window the reason the police car couldn't get through was that the guy who was giving out tickets was stopping it.
"It was so cheeky. It's one set of rules for one. They are a law unto themselves."
"People are Christmas shopping – it's such a nasty thing to do at this time of year."
She added she thought the traffic warden's parked position created more problems for passing motorists than the cars which were illegally parked.
Miss Kaina had left her own car in the village car park, although she acknowledged that it was very busy at the time.
Sue Camp, who is on Sevenoaks Town Council, has previously hit out at Sevenoaks District Council over illegal parking.
She said: "I think there shouldn't be one rule for them and another for everyone else."
"No-one is meant to park there, so what gives them the right to do it?
"They should still be held accountable."
District council spokesman Daniel Whitmarsh said the photo sent in by Miss Kaina does not give the full picture as there were several illegally parked cars in front of it.
He added: "In this instance the council's civil enforcement officers were responding to a number of illegally parked vehicles on yellow lines, which were causing local traffic congestion.
"The officer parked directly behind the illegally parked cars so they would not cause additional traffic congestion and issued a total of three penalty charge notices.
"Civil enforcement officers are permitted to park in restricted areas when enforcing parking restrictions and will usually only do so if there is nowhere else to park."
Saturday, December 12, 2009
St Albans District Council under fire again for parking blunder
1:43pm Thursday 10th December 2009
By Manisha Mistry »
A REVIEW into the district council's parking enforcement which came under fire in October after a shocking blunder was revealed has discovered more flaws in the system.
The car parking working party, which met last night, discussed a report undertaken by the chief finance officer.
In October the Review revealed how the council's Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) was deemed invalid by an adjudicator at a Traffic Penalty Tribunal forcing more than £24,000 worth of unpaid fines to be waived.
Further to the details discovered at the time the fresh investigation has revealed the incorrect terminology in the TRO had been there since 2005 – longer than the council originally thought.
The officer comments: “The current problems have cost the council money and been damaging to its reputation.
“From the review it is clear that the problem of terminology in the TRO has been wrong since 2005 – when the new regime for off street parking was introduced."
Another damning finding highlights the lack of efficiency because there were no check lists and procedures which prevented this problem, or its reoccurrence.
A review of the workload was suggested and the creation of some clear check-lists.
At the time the technical error was discovered the chief executive at the council Daniel Goodwin apologised to residents.
Commenting on the results of the review, Councillor Julian Daly said: “This looks like something that did not need to happen.”
He mentioned a meeting of the council's scrutiny committee in 2007 which warned cabinet members to address the heavy workload of the council's engineering team which is responsible for the TRO.
Councillor Daly added: “Clearly this warning was ignored. The council is now paying the price both financially and in terms of its reputation for being accident prone.”
Car device to put brakes on thieves
9th December 2009
AN INVENTOR has created a device which he says can halt a stolen vehicle anywhere in the world in seconds.
Dr Phillip Tann, 48, claims his new gadget has the potential to put car thieves out of action and massively reduce car insurance premiums.The immobilisation invention's wizardry is contained in a box less than the size of a matchbox.It allows the owner to remotely send a signal which cuts the ignition as soon as the vehicle stops.
the council is going to end up in a lot more trouble should someone who has paid a PCN take legal action or make a criminal complaint of misconduct or fraud.
The issue at the core of this is that the Traffic Order referred to the driver being responsible for the fine, not the Registered Keeper as civil parking enforcement requires. Therefore, the statement that there should not be refunds due to the fact that the person paying 'admitted liability' is offensive and wrong. If their legal document stated that the driver was responsible and they then sent a Notice to Owner claiming that the owner or registered keeper was liable, then that is a false representation. The TRO may have been 'in force' having been made but it misrepresented the position relating to the primary legislation.
Therefore, ALL monies must be refunded otherwise the council has been unjustly enriched and risks investigation by the District Auditor and, should anyone make a criminal complaint, by the Police.
The Fraud Act 2006 is explicit
2 Fraud by false representation
(1) A person is in breach of this section if he—
(a) dishonestly makes a false representation, and
(b) intends, by making the representation—
(i) to make a gain for himself or another, or
(ii) to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.
Matters are far from concluded. The BBC report is shown below.
Parking Fine Error Costs £24,000
10th December 2009
A Hertfordshire council lost £24,000 in revenue from parking fines because enforcement orders were out of date.
St Albans Council's parking rules said a vehicle driver was liable for parking fines but it should have been the vehicle's keeper.
Colm O'Callaghan, the council's chief finance officer, said the blunder made it "impossible" to enforce the fines.
Terminology in the order had been wrong since 2005, when a new regime for off-street parking was introduced.
In a report to the council about the mistake, Mr O'Callaghan said: "Legal advice was that this did not invalidate the traffic order.
"But it did make it impossible for the council to pursue further enforcement action and brought financial cost."
Initially the council had said it thought the cost of the error could be as high as £32,000.
In October a tribunal investigating a claim against a £50 ticket ruled that it was invalid as legal wording had not been updated.
The council has since decided to write off 1,621 penalty charge notices.
"The council is now paying the price both financially and in terms of its reputation for being accident prone"Julian Daly, Conservative group, St Albans Council
The tickets were issued at off-street car parks between 31 March 2008 and 5 November 2009.
People who have already paid the fines are considered to have admitted liability, although since the error was revealed some have submitted requests for refunds.
Mr O'Callaghan's report identified a protracted line of responsibility from the parking contract manager to the city and district engineer, who it said had a heavy workload.
In its response to the mistake, the council is to consider the creation of a clear procedure and check-list for work to be signed off and the implementation of a workload review.
The management responsible have been invited to put forward a plan to implement these recommendations.
Julian Daly, leader of the Conservative opposition group on the council, said management and the political leadership of the Liberal Democrat ruling party were responsible for the mistake.
He said: "Traffic orders were not subject to review by the council's legal team and there was some absence of prioritisation in the relevant team which contributed to the error."
He backed the call for a workload review but said the relevant portfolio holders should ensure the engineering and technical services section were adequately resourced or that its workload was reduced accordingly.
"The council is now paying the price both financially and in terms of its reputation for being accident prone," Mr Daly said.
Council writes off parking fines (05 Nov 09 Beds/Bucks/Herts )
Parking tickets could be invalid (28 Oct 09 Beds/Bucks/Herts )
Council motoring fines 'illegal' (29 May 08 UK )
'Fairer' parking deal for drivers (31 Mar 08 Wales )
Thursday, December 10, 2009
30th November 2009
Vehicle tracking technology developed by a Wearside company will be used by one of Europe's biggest transport firms.
FleetM8 has landed a contract with Sunderland-based Arriva, which operates in 12 European countries.
The tracking technology will be used on the company's bus fleets in Scotland, allowing it to immediately spot when vehicles end up "crowding" by getting too close together.
FleetM8's tracker was developed by inventor Dr Phillip Tann with business partner Neil Herron, noted for his traffic campaigns.
The technology gained recognition two years ago when Dr Tann recieved a speeding ticket claimed he was doing 42mph in a 30 zone.His vehicle, however, was fitted with a prototype GPS tracking device which recorded both his location and speed, clocking him at 29.177196mph at the time he was alleged to have been speeding.
In the lucrative world of car parking contracts, Westminster Council is the bonanza prize, the jackpot at the end of the rainbow. Around 600,000 vehicles come into Westminster's 8.5 square miles every day.
That's like a giant school of plankton in a small pond to your average traffic warden whale — open wide and ticket. There are too many cars chasing too few parking spaces and in the frustrations of an average working day, some drivers take a chance in the usually false hope that they might just be lucky…
The council itself says it's not legally allowed to make a profit from parking enforcement. Its “surplus income” from parking — £35 million last year, thanks very much — goes to pay for the men on the streets and for other transport projects.
For the firms running the enforcement deal, however, it's a goldmine, worth around £12 million a year. For the last seven years the contract has been held by NSL, the former services arm of National Car Parks which split from the main company and is now owned by private equity.
Now it's up for grabs. This week firms who want to bid for the right to be parking enforcer for the next four years — with an option for two more after that — have to submit their final proposals. In the running, I am told, are three firms: NSL again, Apcoa (formerly the Airport Parking Company of America), and Mouchel, a publicly listed company formed in 2003 from the merger of two engineering firms, Mouchel and Parkman.
A preferred bidder shortlist will be approved in January, with a decision taken shortly after. Mouchel is perhaps the most interesting of the three in the frame. It only entered parking enforcement relatively recently and has been making headway in winning contracts, securing deals in Newham (the so-called Olympic borough) and Hillingdon among others.
In chatting to officials about which firm might win the prestigious Westminster deal, an intriguing name came up. Stuart Lawrenson is, to those in the know, one of the most successful players in the UK parking industry — a fat cat enforcer, you might say. He is also the former chief executive of Central Parking Ltd where he was accused of misappropriating assets belonging to the American firm for his own benefit. Lawrenson resigned as a director of the company and paid £130,000, as well as forfeiting Central Parking shares, in settlement of the allegations.
In filings to the Securities & Exchange Commission, Central Parking blamed former managers of its UK arm for “unauthorised related party transactions and improper and inaccurate accounting entries”. Lawrenson is back in the game. I'm told he attended a meeting with council officials at a Westminster hotel last month to discuss the parking enforcement contract, allegedly in the pay of Mouchel.
I asked the company what role Lawrenson plays for them, and got the following: “Mouchel does not comment on the details of live procurements as these are confidential and commercially sensitive. Stuart Lawrenson is not, nor ever has been, an employee of Mouchel but works for a company that provides technology products to the parking industry. In common with other companies, we use some of these as part of our parking enforcement offer.”
Lawrenson has paid his fine and is perhaps entitled to continue his career. As long as everyone involved knows of his history, there's probably no cause for concern.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday November 20, 2009
MOTORISTS have been slow to reclaim money paid to a Devon council which is believed to have been issuing invalid parking tickets.
A freedom of information request has shown that no one has yet come forward to claim a refund from Teignbridge District Council for Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) that were issued between May 2008 and August 23 this year when a credit card surcharge was in place.
The Echo revealed earlier this year that the district council was facing the potentially huge claims for issuing PCNs, which stated the recipient would incur a 1.7 per cent administration charge if they paid by credit card.
However, this meant the overall penalty exceeded the amount that can legally be charged, leading to claims they were unlawful in their entirety.
Teignbridge District Council is currently offering refunds of just the surcharge. However, Neil Herron, of the company Parking Appeals, said the total cost of the PCN should be refunded.
During the period in question, a total of 9,877 parking tickets were issued — deriving an income of nearly £250,000.
But campaigners who questioned the legality of the charges said the authority should automatically refund motorists and be "shouting from the rooftops" instead of waiting for claims.
Mr Herron said: "The money should be refunded automatically. The council has no right to levy the charge. The PCNs are unlawful — they are not entitled to keep the money.
"The district auditor must get involved and declare the amount of money unjust enrichment and unlawful.
"I am not surprised that no one has applied for a refund. It is up to the council to write to everyone using the same form it used when it requested the money in the first place to make people aware of what they are entitled to and the procedure they must go through to claim it."
Mr Herron, who has seen several councils deal with the same problem, said Teignbridge was among the worst he had dealt with.
"There are some really good councils that, as soon as they released what had happened, volunteered the refunds and contacted the people involved," he told the Echo.
"Others ran a series of adverts in the local press while some feel they are entitled to keep it. This will come back and bite them in the long run as people have the right to their money back. If Teignbridge is saying no one has been in touch what effort have they made to contact people?
"They just need to do the decent thing. We are encouraging motorists , if they benefit from a windfall through a mistake in law, to share their good fortune with a local charity. The council should not be allowed to keep it."
It is understood an objection is currently in the hands of the district auditor who has yet to make a ruling. A Teignbridge District Council spokesman said: "In keeping with many authorities around the country Teignbridge is happy to refund credit card surcharges applied to penalty charge notices where customers have chosen to pay by card. While it isn't economical to write to individuals, we would encourage anyone who wants to claim a refund of the 1.7 per cent surcharge, worth from 43p to 60p depending on the ticket, to contact us."
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The wardens were allowed to speak freely to the journalist with the film crew, or so they thought.
Westminster City Council outsource their parking enforcement to a company called NSL Services, previously known as NCP Services Ltd.
One CEO told the film crew about NSL's unfair practices, and how Westminster City Council for CEO's to bring in high numbers of parking tickets (PCN's). This is undercover footage of that wardens interrogation on the 1st September 2009 at NSL's Westgate head office by Kenneth Henslip NSL's Head of Professional Standards.
The CEO was not allowed representation or given the minutes of the interrogation. The Channel4 documentary is called Confessions Of A Traffic Warden, was shown at 9pm on Thursday 19th November 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
By Susanna Wilkey
Motorists in Camden were hit with a double whammy this week when the council gained new impounding powers and launched a judicial review to fight parking ticket appeals that went against them.
On Mondey the council voted to give itself new powers to seize the cars of ticketed motorists without warning. Together with Westminster Council, it will trial the project which gives them the power to impound vehicles with three or more unpaid PCNs that are not the subject of an appeal, even if they are parked legally when tracked down.
The council will be able to pick up the cars in the two boroughs and three others in London - a move which campaigners say is "draconian".
Opponents also say the scheme will affect innocent drivers because of mistakes by wardens and difficulties establishing car ownership.
To get their cars back those affected will have to pay all the fines plus towing charges, or pay a bond to release the car if they dispute the council's actions.
Paul Pearson from http://www.penaltychargenotice.co.uk/ who lives in West Hampstead and works in Marylebone, said: "This will end up persecuting the wrong people. People will have their cars towed when they sometimes don't even know they have tickets because they have been lost in the post or gone to the wrong address. This seems totally ridiculous"
Lobbyist Neil Herron, of Parkingappeals.co.uk, said: " The DVLA database is never more than 90per cent accurate. You could have people who have just bought a car and then have it towed away even though the parking tickets belong to someone else, like a previous owner. These local authorities couldn't run a whelk stall so to give them the power to tow away cars because they have three outstanding PCNs should not be happening."
The judicial review move follows two separate judgments from the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service (Patas) which ruled that a 1.3 per cent administration fee charged to those paying paring fines by credit card was illegal.
The council scrapped the policy in June but campaigners say it should pay back the £6.5 million of tickets paid out by motorists before the adjudications.
Now Camden has submitted a request for a judicial review, expected to be heard in April. A spokeswoman said: "Camden Council believes the recent decisions by Patas are legally flawed. We will be asking the High Court to review and overturn them."
Mr Herron welcomed the judicial review case as he expects the council to lose and be forced to repay the money.
He added: "I am confident the adjudicators reached the correct decision. If Camden was wholly confident, it should have continued charging. They should also ask themselves how much public money is being spent by going down this route."
But parking boss, Cllr Chris Knight, has defended both actions. He said the council believes fines paid with the credit card surcharge are still valid and the new impounding rules will help the borough catch 2,716 cars with three or more fines outstanding."
He said: "We are losing huge amounts of money through unpaid PCNs. It is a fair process and we are already undertaking pre-debt recovery programmes which identify the owners of the vehicles and the offenders if they are not the same people."
Drivers who owe for more than three parking tickets or traffic fines risk having their cars impounded under the pilot, which starts on 4 January. A database of vehicles with unpaid fines is being created. Drivers whose cars are towed could end have to pay more than £500 to retrieve them.
London Councils, the umbrella group of local authorities organising the trial, says the scheme is vital to stop persistent fine evaders. It involves six boroughs: Ealing, Camden, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth and Kensington and Chelsea. If successful it will be rolled out across the capital. Ealing has suggested a removal fee of £200 plus £40-a-day storage charges on top of the fines.
But Neil Herron, of parkingappeals.co.uk, said: "It is going to be a nightmare of red tape and litigation and smacks of Big Brother."
By Patrick Knox
Tuesday 10th November 2009
DRIVERS were wrongly issued with fines after experimental parking controls were found not to be valid.
Motorists were issued with tickets, totalling £1,375, for parking in controlled areas in the Penrith Road area of Brookvale, Kings Furlong and North Whitchurch.
But officers in Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council introduced the controls under the wrong legislation – meaning they could not be lawfully enforced. So far, no driver hit by a fine has been reimbursed.
Councillor Clive Sanders, Cabinet member for community safety and development, made the disclosures after being quizzed by Whitchurch borough councillor Keith Watts at a full council meeting on the total value of the fines.
Cllr Sanders said: “The professional advice available was that there was a possibility that the orders could be flawed and it was inappropriate for the council’s enforcement officers to continue issuing the fixed penalty notices.”
Of the 53 penalty notices, Cllr Sanders said 27 have been paid with a total value of £950. But he added the council has not refunded those who had paid up because it did not have enough details and was not allowed to access the DVLA database to obtain vehicle owner details. Those who have not paid have had their fines cancelled, he said.
The controls, which came into force in March, included areas of no or restricted waiting, controlled parking zones and a residents’ parking scheme.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council introduced the restrictions as “experimental traffic regulations” in response to parking problems in the area.
But council lawyers spotted that fines could be challenged because the controls should be enacted under section 45 of the Road Traffic Act of 1984. Parking attendants enforcing the restriction were then told to stop issuing penalty notices on September 18.
Now the council is seeking to introduce a permanent traffic order in Brookvale and Kings Furlong, Whitchurch, and the Penrith Road area of Beggarwood.
Cllr Watts, who represents the Whitchurch ward, said afterwards: “Anyone who has paid a fine should be tracked down and refunded.”
Friday, November 06, 2009
By Daily Mail
05th November 2009
Britain's most prolific traffic warden was unmasked yesterday - a Yellow Peril who has dished out over 400 tickets in his first two months on the job.
Geoffrey Stobbart, 53, dubbed the 'Human Ticket Machine' by locals, has issued 416 £70 tickets in Kettering, Northamptonshire, between August and October.
At his current rate he is on target to hand out 2,000 tickets this year - twice the rate of John Woodgate, Britain's previously toughest warden, known as 'The Terminator'.
Employed by Kettering Borough Council, Geoffrey covers 695 pay-and-display parking spaces in the town, as well as double yellow lines and surrounding residential areas.
The town had been left without a traffic warden for three months after his predecessor retired earlier this year.
Now Mr Stobbart, from Corby, s working 37 hours a week to stop motorists parking illegally across his patch - and says he is 'proud' of his performance.
But motorists and drivers' groups yesterday slammed his 'unblinking dedication to making lives a misery' and potentially threatening Christmas trade.
Gene Picton, 25, who works at a motor spares shop in Kettering, said Mr Stobbard was known as a 'parking tyrant' who ticketed his brother dropping children at nursery.
He said: 'Lots of my family members and half my customers have mentioned being ticketed by him.
'My brother was furious after he got a ticket while he was dropping his daughter off at nursery and said the guy was a parking tyrant.
'He had to pay a fine and was really angry. This guy patrols the street day and night. He's a human ticket machine.'
The Association of British Drivers said Mr Stobbart would drive shoppers and visitors out of Kettering town centre.
A spokesman said: 'If he continues to issue tickets at this rate then Kettering won't have any shoppers left - that would be crippling for local businesses at Christmas.
'The ticketing is just a money making racket for the council and is ridiculous and officious.'
Neil Herron, who runs campaign group Parking Appeals, said Kettering Borough Council needed to look very carefully at its parking regulations.
He said: 'The council should not go down the route of beating people with a big financial stick and it is very dangerous to have one individual effectively controlling town parking.
'They should take a light-foot approach in the run up to Christmas and encourage people to come into the centre not literally drive them away.'
Mr Stobbard, a father-of-five who has three grandchildren, worked as a senior foreman at an aluminium factory until he became redundant and took the warden's job.
Yesterday he defended his record - and said he is being complimented by some locals for doing his job properly.
He said: 'You would think being a traffic warden is a thankless task but I have received a lot of compliments from local residents for the improvements that have already happened.
'There hadn't been any policing of parking for so long that people became complacent and thought they could do what they liked.
'But the town centre has improved immensely already and things are much better now.
'The pedestrianised areas and the market place were a nightmare when I started - market traders said so many cars came through it was like a motorway.
'And weekends were the worst because shoppers used to abuse the residents' parking bays, which upset a lot of local people.
'I have never parked illegally and nor has my wife - I hope I am setting a good example.'
He added: 'I wouldn't call this an achievement - I want to see the number of tickets I issue go down because that means things are getting better.'
Jim Hakewill, leader of Kettering Borough Council, commended Mr Stobbard for making 'a big difference'.
Ruthless traffic warden John Woodgate, 59, held the previous record for most parking tickets issued.
He was dubbed 'the Terminator' by local motorists for issuing 11,000 tickets in 11 years in the small market town of Haverhill, Suffolk.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
It had been the subject of a complaint going back to 2007 when John Munns from the Department for Transport had confirmed:
" Traffic signs on any road to which the public has access, including private roads, must conform to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 and pedestrian crossing must conform to the Zebra, Pelican, and Puffin, Pedestrian Crossings Regulations and General Directions 1997 (SI 1997;2400).
The combination of these regulations is not always obvious but we now understand that the zig zag should always follow the kerb-line including into any bays . Loading bays minimum width in TSRGD is 2.7m - unless it conform entirely to diagram 1032 in TSRGD. The Signs regulations always have the "loading only" legend outside the bay - authorised exceptions are very , very, raree. (sic)."
Below is the email from the Leader of Sunderland City Council after he, and the Secretary of State was put on notice that their failure to act in relation to unlawful signing at pedestrian crossings at this, and other locations in Sunderland could result in a fatality.
As I write this no action has been taken to correct the restrictions and markings on the highway and the location is illegal and dangerous.
On Saturday 17th October 2009 a 12 year old Sunderland boy was killed at a pedestrian crossing at a location in Sunderland. There are parking bays and a Bus Stop Clearway in the controlled area BEHIND the zig zags.
Perhaps the apologists for councils dumbing down signing law will now realise what happens if you allow councils to chant the mantra ... 'no reasonable person could be misled by the meaning of the sign.'
Look at the bays above. No-one could be misled by the words 'Loading Only.'
Look at the bays on the left with a big 'P' sign next to them. No-one could be 'misled' as to what it means BUT THIS IS ILLEGAL!
THE REALITY IS THAT THEY DO NOT COMPLY WITH THE LAW AND SUCH INTRANSIGENCE, RECKLESS INDIFFERENCE AND MISCONDUCT BY COUNCIL OFFICERS TOWARDS THEIR LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES MUST BE STOPPED IMMEDIATELY AND THOSE RESPONSIBLE DISMISSED AND PROSECUTED.
25th August 2009
Dear Mr Herron
SEA ROAD, FULWELL
I refer to your email of 26th April 2009 regarding the above.
I do not accept your assertions about the way in which the Council is treating this matter.
The traffic management arrangements at this location were the subject of public consultation and were introduced to help regulate the use of the highway in such a way as to provide a safe and serviceable environment in which the many competing uses of the available highway space can thrive.
Officers have informed me that the Police have not recorded any injury accidents at this location in the last 15 years.
This is a remarkably good accident record and is significantly lower than that which could be expected in a busy urban residential and shopping area. This situation is monitored on an ongoing basis by officers.
In addition, there are no complaints from residents, visitors and local businesses about the operation of the highway at this part of Sea Road.
The signing and layout at Sea Road has been reviewed and it is recognised that it is not consistent with current regulations. However, due to the success of the scheme introduced, and the potential disadvantages of making alterations, any change needs careful consideration.
Following a risk assessment and a consultation with the Department for Transport, the ‘zig-zag’ markings are to be amended, as is the signing of the loading bays.
Councillor Paul Watson
Leader of the Council
0191 561 1322
AT THE TIME OF POSTING I HAVE YET TO RECEIVE A RESPONSE FROM THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT, LORD ADONIS.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
This will allow any investigation into the legality of the Traffic Orders governing the Hospital car parks and the issuing of penalties and receiving of monies for permits and pay and display to be fully in the public domain.
Questions will also need to be raised with the Secretary of State for Transport as to what he now intends to do with regard to the Civil Enforcement Area for Devon should it be shown the he was given false reassurances by council officers.
The letter ...
Head of Administration & Parking Services
Exeter City Council
28th October 2009
Dear Mr Coombes
This letter is divided into two parts:
PART I … The first part is made in response to the answers given by Exeter City Council (ECC) in reply to my Freedom of Information (FoI) request dated 6th September 2009 (copy below).
PART II … The second part is a formal complaint against Exeter City Council for maladministration in their administration of regulating the car parks on land owned by the Royal Devon & Exeter Healthcare NHS Trust (RD&E Trust) and the Devon Partnership NHS Trust (DP Trust).
* Please note that where I request information in Part I, it is to be treated as a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
* Where the term “Trust’s” is used in either Part I or Part II, then this term is to be taken to mean the Royal Devon & Exeter Healthcare Trust and the Devon Partnership NHS Trust jointly.
In my FoI request I asked to be provided with a copy or copies of any contract between ECC and the RD&E Trust that empowered ECC to make a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) under Section 35 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act (RTRA 1984) in regard of this land that is privately owned. Unfortunately ECC declined to provide any copy or copies. The reason given was that this information is exempt as it contains commercially sensitive information.
It is my understanding that any contract was never put out to tender and that there are no plans for any contract to be put out to tender in the immediate future. For these reasons I do not agree that any “commercially sensitive” exemption applies to this information and I ask once again that you provide me with the copy or copies of any contract between ECC and the RD&E Trust. I am not unreasonable and I do not mind if ECC blackout the financial figures. If you continue to decline my request then I will ask the Information Commission to assess your refusal.
I also request that you provide a copy or copies of any contracts made between ECC and the DP Trust in relation to the car parks ECC regulate on the DP Trust’s land. Once again I do not object if ECC blackout any financial figures.
I must make you fully aware that it is essential that a contract does exist in each case and that it is made under section 33(4) of the RTRA 1984. This requirement is supported by section 35(1) of the RTRA 1984. If any contract fails to have been correctly drafted then the financial repercussions for ECC could cost in excess of £8,000,000. Taking the seriousness of this matter into account you will understand that the matter of any contract or contracts is paramount and it is in ECC’s interest to clarify the legal status of any contract or contracts. Failure to provide any copies will result in inference that is likely to lead to the detriment of ECC’s reputation.
In my FoI request I specifically asked that I be provided with all plans pertaining to The City of Exeter Hospital Parking Places Order 1994 and any subsequent amendments. ECC failed to comply with this reasonable request and an offer to make a personal viewing is not an acceptable response to a request for information. Since the plans are necessary to evaluate the schedule, I must insist that ECC provide me with all plans that accompany any order relating to the land owned by RD&E Trust and the DP Trust. Any continued failure will be raised with the Information Commission. I am quite will to pay any reasonable copying and postage costs.
I also require copies of all ECC internal correspondence, made in electronic format or otherwise, that has been communicated since the 6th September 2009 and concerns the RD&E Trust car parks and the DP Trust car parks. This request also extends to all ECC correspondence sent to and received from external bodies that has been communicated since the 6th September 2009 and concerns the RD&E Trust car parks and the DP Trust car parks. I do not doubt for one moment that significant communications will have been made internally between the Parking Department, the Legal Department and senior council officials and externally between ECC and the RD&E Trust. Previous experience has alerted me to the fact that some councils believe that they can get away with disclosing sensitive information by withholding, denying or deleting it. I must clear you of any doubt that I will not hesitate to report any suspicion I have, as to ECC’s compliance with this request, to the Information Commission as well as consult with my lawyers.
In addition to the points above, I wish to submit a Subject Access Request under Section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 for the release of all personal data the council may hold, including emails where I am referenced or discussed. The Information Commissioner will confirm that emails also constitute structured data. Please let me know if there is a fee to be levied for this and I will forward a cheque by return.
I am sure that, in the public interest you will wish to be transparent on this issue and, if a mistake has been made, issue the necessary apologies. From experience, previous councils that have attempted to obfuscate end up creating even more problems and suffer public embarrassment and financial penalties as a result. I am sure that this council will not wish to add your name to this list of councils.
My complaint of maladministration applies to all the car park sites owned by the RD&E Trust and the DP Trust and on which ECC regulate by order, made under section 35 of the RTRA 1984.
For now I will assume that such an order is founded on a contractual agreement made under section 33(4) of the RTRA 1984. If it is later established that any contractual agreement fails to meet the legal requirement then there will be a dire need to add further to this complaint of maladministration.
In my FoI request ECC declined to answer my question seeking an explanation as to why ECC had continued to enforce the Trust’s car park sites under the provisions of the RTRA 1984 when, since the 5th May 2008, the County of Devon has been designated as a Civil Enforcement Area for parking contraventions by Statutory Instrument (S.I). ECC also declined to offer a simple view on whether the continued issue of Standard Charge Notices under the RTRA 1984 was considered by them to be lawful.
My questions were not complex and a competent council ought to know why they are enforcing parking regulations under a certain piece of legislation and certainly they ought to be able to express a view on whether their actions are lawful. The fact that ECC chose not to offer any explanation is because they are either incompetent and do not know the answers or have a cavalier and reckless approach towards their legal responsibilities. It has nothing to do with the fact that such questions are not considered to be information accessible under the FoI Act 2000 which is the excuse given.
Since ECC do not appear to know the answers I will provide them. The answer is that since 5th May 2008 ECC have been legally obliged to cease enforcing any parking contravention under the RTRA 1984 and to commence enforcement under the Traffic Management Act 2004 (TMA 2004). Therefore the continued issue since 5th May 2008 by ECC of Standard Charge Notices has been unlawful.
· Under the TMA 2004 any car park within a Civil Enforcement Area (CEA) that is regulated by a Traffic Regulation Order made under section 35 of the RTRA 1984 requires the local authority to serve penalty charge notices and thereby allowing the recipient, access to an appeal procedure that is far more favourable than the old criminalised system operated under the RTRA 1984.
· The Trust’s car park sites are clearly within the designated CEA that S.I 2008/1051 gives authority to. The only exemption is for land owned by the MoD.
· Devon County Council’s CPE application clearly instructs the Department for Transport under paragraph 3.1.1 that the CEA will include all off street car parks administered by the districts. The Trust’s car parks are administered by ECC. Paragraph 1.5 provides the definition for “the districts” and this definition includes ECC. Paragraph 3.1.4 advises that a map attached to appendix C defines the CEA and this map includes all the Exeter area. The evidence confirming the Trust’s sites are within a CEA is conclusive.
· Schedule 7, Part 1, paragraph 4(2)(d) of the TMA 2004 clearly confirms that it is a civil parking contravention to contravene section 35A of the RTRA 1984. The City of Exeter Hospital Parking Places Order 1994 clearly makes reference to section 35A in relation to contraventions and as such this is further evidence that parking enforcement should, since 5th May 2008, have been under the provisions of the TMA 2004.
· It should also be noted that the 2007 General Regulations made under the TMA 2004, quite clearly instruct under paragraph 7 that “no criminal proceedings may be instituted” within a CEA.
Now that I have helped ECC to ascertain that they have acted unlawfully since 5th May 2008, I demand that ECC publicly acknowledge their unlawful actions and that ECC make every effort to reimburse those members of the public that have, since the 5th May 2008, been required to pay an unlawful Standard Charge Notice.
Further to this, I require to know what action ECC intend to take to remedy such maladministration and what disciplinary action will be taken against those members of staff that were incompetent in their decision making to allow such a travesty to occur?
The maladministration complaint does not end here as there are further matters relating to The City of Exeter Hospital Parking Places Order 1994 to raise.
The Trust’s car park sites are regulated by a Traffic Regulation Order made under section 35 of the RTRA 1984. Section 35 makes provision for the local authority to set the charges to be paid in connection with the use of the car parks. It has come to my attention that the Trust’s staff members are charged a fee for a staff parking permit and that the total income obtained from these permit fees since 1994 is approximately £2,000,000. However, The City of Exeter Hospital Parking Places Order 1994 (the “original order”) and its subsequent amendments do not contain any provision permitting such a fee to be charged for a staff parking permit. All parking charges must be contained within the order when those charges apply to land that is regulated by the order. This does not appear to have been the case with staff parking permit fees.
My inquiries have discovered that the Trust’s seem to be allowed to regulate these permit fees independently from The City of Exeter Hospital Parking Places Order 1994. As the land is regulated by an order, this independent action is unlawful and ultra vires to what section 35 of the RTRA 1984 makes provision for.
Since the Trust’s and ECC have acted ultra vires and hence unlawfully in obtaining fees for parking without them being contained within the order then this maladministration also needs to be investigated. I urge that immediate action be taken to reimburse all current staff that have purchased staff parking permits and that appropriate action is taken to reimburse all ex-staff where they can be traced. It is important that ECC realise that although the land is privately owned, that they are legally responsible for all regulation upon it due to the order made in their name. I require to know why ECC believed it unnecessary to include these permit charges within their order and what action they will take to remedy this maladministration?
I note that “The City of Exeter Hospital Parking Places Order 1994 (Amendment) (No.4) Order 2003 attempted to amend the original order so that charging and regulation could commence at further car park sites. These being Wonford House, Cedars/Delderfield and Hospice. Unfortunately the person that drafted the amendment No 4 order failed to do it competently.
This amendment order simply advises that the area of land on plan 1 is to be increased to include these further sites and completely fails to amend column 1 of the Schedule so that these further sites are added to it. Since this amendment order failed to add the sites to the Schedule these sites are not ‘parking places’ as defined by the original order. The consequence of this incompetence is that since 4th February 2003 all income from parking tariffs and standard charges accrued from the car parks at Wonford House, Cedars/Delderfield and Hospice have been acquired without any legal foundation, making it all unlawfully derived income.
Once again an explanation from ECC is required to clarify why they failed to correctly draft the amendment No 4 order to allow lawful regulation and charging at these sites. Details are also required of what ECC intend to do to remedy this unlawful action and how they intend to compensate those members of the Trust’s staff and the general public that have been charged or penalised by ECC since 2003, when their order made no provision for this.
Another matter brought to my attention is that ECC issue a Standard Charge Notice within the trust’s car parks where a vehicle is parked beyond the time stamped on the displayed parking ticket. On close scrutiny of the original order it appears that such action by ECC is ultra vires to what power the original order and its amendments bestow.
The Standard Charge Notices issued by ECC give a list of offences numbered 1-8 (the original order under paragraph 5 only prescribes 5 offences to be listed on the Standard Charge Notice, so the increase of a further 3 offences without any legal basis is a point of further maladministration and needs to be explained). Number 2 in this list refers to a situation where “only expired tickets were displayed on the vehicle”. Neither the original order nor any of its subsequent amendments define what an expired ticket is nor do they make any reference to the term “expired” in relation to the receipt of a Standard Charge Notice. It is paragraph 4.5 within the original order that instructs when a Standard Charge is to be payable and we are told that it is when a vehicle is left “otherwise than in accordance with paragraphs 4.1 to 4.4”. These paragraphs make no reference to an “expired” ticket and therefore ECC have no enabling power to issue a Standard Charge for the reason of displaying an expired ticket.
I am also aware that ECC issue Standard Charges where a ticket is considered invalid because the vehicle has parked beyond the time stamped on the displayed ticket. Once again on close scrutiny of the original order and its amendments, it is clear that ECC is not bestowed with the legal authority to penalise in such circumstances.
Within the original order, paragraph 4.2(iv) instructs that a ticket, “shall only be valid on the date when purchased or on the dates stated on such ticket or tickets”. Therefore, so long as a ticket has the correct date it is valid and validity, according to the order, has nothing to do with the time stamped upon the ticket.
Since the original order and its amendments bestow no power on ECC to penalise “expired” tickets or tickets considered invalid due to “time” rather than “date” issues, it is reasonable to conclude that ECC have once again acted ultra vires and unlawfully. I require ECC to once again explain the reasons for their unlawful actions and to confirm how they intend to remedy this situation as well as state what action they intend to take to compensate those that have been treated unjustly by their unlawful actions.
In my FoI requests to ECC, RD&E Trust and Devon County Council, I requested copies of any consultations sent or received in regard to the alleged contract made between ECC and RD&E Trust as well as all consultations made in relation to the original order and any subsequent amendments. The result of this request was that neither ECC, RD&E Trust nor Devon County Council were able to provide a single document to prove any formal statutory consultation was ever made.
Taking this failure into consideration, it is rational to conclude that no proof could be provided because ECC did not observe its legal obligations to consult concerning the contract, the original order and its amendments.
This legal obligation is based on section 39(3) of the RTRA 1984. ECC are not permitted to exercise any power under the RTRA 1984 unless Devon County Council has given their formal consent. It must also be noted that under paragraph 6 of S.I. 1996/2849, ECC are legally obliged to consult other statutory bodies in relation to any order.
Since there is no evidence of any statutory consultation having been undertaken, it can be argued that ECC are guilty of further maladministration and any contract, order or amendment pertaining to the Trust’s car parks is unlawful. I request that ECC either provide conclusive evidence that their statutory duties were observed or offer an explanation as to why they failed in their legal duty and to elucidate on what actions they intend to take to compensate those that suffered as a consequence of any unlawful action by ECC.
From all the very serious matters raised in this letter, it is clearly evident that ECC are guilty of gross maladministration in their regulation of the Trust’s car park sites. Where ECC disagree with any statement, comment or accusation then I expect them to explicitly confirm the legal rationale behind any such disagreement.
It is unacceptable that ECC as a public authority can disregard and break the law while harshly penalising members of the public they believe to have broken the law. Not only is such behaviour unlawful, it is immoral and hypocritical and the public of Exeter deserve to learn the truth as to the extent of ECC’s maladministration.
I expect your full reply shortly.
Please acknowledge receipt of this communication and I would be grateful if you could provide contact details for the Head of Internal Audit and the District Auditor.
cc. Lord Lucas
cc. Lord Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport
cc. Sadiq Khan MP, Minister for Transport
cc. Norman Baker MP, Shadow Minister for Transport
cc. Theresa Villiers MP, Shadow Minister for Transport
cc. Complaints Department RD&E
cc. Anne Byrne, Express and Echo
cc. Marilyn Waldron, Department for Transport
cc. Bruce Luxton, Head of Policy, Exeter City Council
cc. Philip Bostock, Chief Executive
cc. Cllr. Yolonda Henson
cc. Cllr. Peter Edwards
cc. Cllr. Adrian Fullam
cc. Ben Bradshaw MP
cc. Newsdesk, BBC Spotlight
Statutory Instrument 2004 No. 3082 The Local Authorities (Indemnities for Members and Officers) Order 2004
THE RESPONSE TO THE ORIGINAL FoI REQUEST
Dear Mr Herron,
Thank you for your request made under the Freedom of Information Act, received in this office on 6 September 2009.
Please see below the responses to the questions you have raised (highlighted in blue).
If you have any complaints about the way your request has been handled please write to the Complaints Monitoring Officer of the City Council or complete the online complaint form that can be found at www.exeter.gov.uk/complaints. If your complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction you have the right to apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision.
Exeter City Council
Exeter, EX1 1JN
Tel: 01392 265875
Fax: 01392 265268
From: Neil Herron [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: 06 September 2009 14:32To: Parking EnforcementCc: Luxton, Bruce; 'Parking Appeals'Subject: FW: Devon CC Traffic Order
F.A.O. Freedom of Information OfficerExeter City CouncilCivic CentreParis StreetExeterDevonEX1 1JNUnited Kingdom
6th September 2009
Dear Sir / Madam,
I hereby request under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 that you release all the information detailed below:
1) Please confirm the name and locations of all the RD&E hospital car park sites in which Exeter City Council enforce parking regulations and issue a standard charge notice where it is deemed that a parking contravention has occurred.
Exeter City Council enforces regulations at the Wonford site (including the Orthopaedic Unit) and Heavitree site.
2) In relation to each of the above named sites, please provide full copies of any contract or contracts between Exeter City Council and the NHS Trust that enables such enforcement to be undertaken by Exeter City Council on land owned by the NHS Trust.
I am unable to provide copies of the agreements between Exeter City Council and the RD&E Hospital as these are exempt under Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, because they contain commercially sensitive information.
3) If any contract was necessary, please confirm whether the contract or contracts in each case required consultation with any other party and if so please confirm their name and provide copies of all correspondence in regard to all consultations undertaken.
The Council does not hold this information.
4) Please provide a full copy (inclusive of site location maps) of ‘The City of Exeter Hospital parking Places Order 1994’ and in addition please provide full copies (inclusive of site location maps) of any order or notice that has since revoked, amended or varied the 1994 order.
I have sent you a hard copy of 'The City of Exeter Hospital Parking Places Order 1994' and amendments (No. 1-7). Please note, if you would like to view the plans which accompany the Order and amendment No. 4, please contact me to arrange a suitable time to view them at the Council's Customer Service Centre.
5) Please confirm whether any other parties were consulted in relation to making the 1994 order and any of the orders or notices revoking, amending or varying the 1994 order. In each case where consultation did occur please confirm the name of the party or parties consulted and provide full copies of all correspondence.
The Council does not hold this information.
6) Please confirm the name of the Head of Parking Services at the time when CPE (Civil Parking Enforcement) commenced.
The Council's Head of Parking, Engineering & Business Support is Roger Coombes and he was in post at the time the Council acquired CPE responsibilities in May 2008.
7) Please confirm the experience and qualifications held by the person named above that made his or her superiors consider this person suitably proficient to implement CPE.
I am unable to provide details of his experience and qualifications because it is exempt under Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as it is personal information. Section 40 of the Act states that information does not have to be released if it would contravene the Data Protection Act 1998.
8) Please explain why Exeter City Council has continued to enforce the RD&E hospital car park sites using a standard charge under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 when, since 5th May 2008, the County of Devon has been designated a Civil Parking Enforcement area under the provisions made in the Traffic Management Act 2004.
This is not a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
9) Please confirm whether Exeter City Council consider the issue of standard charges under the RTRA 1984 within the hospital car park sites since 5th May 2008 to be lawful and if they do then please explain on what legal basis this belief is held.
This is not a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
10) Please confirm the number of standard charges issued by Exeter City Council within the hospital sites since 5th May 2008.
11) Please confirm the total revenue raised from these standard charges since 5th May 2008.
12) Please confirm the total number of standard charges issued by Exeter City Council within the hospital sites since the commencement of the 1994 Hospital Parking Places Order.
14,080 (this includes the figure in 10 above)
13) Please confirm the total revenue raised from standard charges since the commencement of the 1994 Hospital Parking Places Order.
£177,834 (this includes the figure in 11 above)
14) Please confirm the total revenue raised within the hospital car park sites from parking tariffs since the commencement of the 1994 Hospital Parking Places Order.
The Council does not hold this information. This question should be re-directed to the RD&E Foundation Trust.
15) Please confirm the number of standard charges issued within the hospital car park sites since the commencement of the 1994 Hospital Parking Places Order that were for displaying an expired ticket.
The Council does not hold this information.
16) Please confirm the total revenue raised within the hospital car park sites since the commencement of the 1994 Hospital Parking Places Order from standard charges issued for displaying an expired ticket.
The Council does not hold this information. This question should be re-directed to the RD&E Foundation Trust.
*NB: Where appropriate in each case above, where you are unable to provide an exact figure please submit an approximation.
Please acknowledge receipt of this email and comply with this request within the statutory time of 20 working days.
It is believed that the vehicle suffered mechanical failure, and as such the PCN issued can be appealed successfully. It is understood that the driver below did attempt to contact the emergency breakdown services.
If he would care to get in touch we will assist with his appeal ;-)
Friday, October 30, 2009
BBC 29th October 2009
Mr Gidden was caught going at 85mph on the M180 motorway
A man charged with speeding has had his conviction quashed because a postal strike led to his notification letter being delivered too late.
Peter Gidden, 48, of Dodworth, South Yorkshire, received his letter two days late after a postal strike in 2007.
The law states that police must send notice of intention to prosecute within 14 days of an alleged offence.
On Thursday the High Court ruled that the conviction was not legal because the time limit had not been met.
Mr Gidden was caught on a speed camera doing 85mph (137km/h) on the M180 in Lincolnshire in October 2007.
But a backlog of mail caused by a postal strike at the time held up the letter sent by police.
'Matter of principle'
He received it after 16 days had passed.
Following his decision, Lord Justice Elias said the case was relevant to the current postal strikes and said the law may have to be revised to avoid similar issues in the future.
He said: "The authorities must adopt other means of warning, if they are to avoid the risk of late delivery.
"Alternatively, the remedy lies in the hands of Parliament by amending...the 1988 [Road Traffic Offenders] Act."
Mr Gidden had previously appealed against the conviction at Grimsby Crown Court and Scunthorpe Magistrates' Court.
The High Court quashed his conviction and set aside fines and legal costs totalling £680. They also wiped three penalty points from his licence.
His legal fees of £8,000 will be paid for from public funds.
"In a way this is a matter of principle", Mr Gidden said.
"Law enforcers have to work within the law to gain the respect of the general public."
THE FULL PA PRESS REPORT IS BELOW:
Source: Press Association 29th October 18.05
PETER GIDDEN APPEAL
A motorist had a speeding conviction quashed by the High Court today (29/10/09) - because a 2007 postal strike led to the late delivery of a crucial prosecution document. Motoring laws might now have to be amended to prevent other drivers attempting to take advantage of similar late deliveries during the current or future mail strikes.
A statutory notice was sent warning Peter Gidden, 48, who runs his own specialist Toyota sports car workshop, that he had been caught by a speed camera and the police intended to prosecute, but it arrived two days late. The law states that such notices must be delivered within 14 days.
Gidden was jubilant after the judges allowed his appeal against Grimsby Crown Court's decision in February to uphold a speeding conviction imposed by Scunthorpe magistrates last October.
He faced prosecution under the 1988 Road Traffic Offenders Act. The judges quashed his conviction and set aside fines and legal costs totalling #680. They also wiped out the three penalty points endorsed on his licence and awarded him legal costs out of public funds.
Gidden said he had been driving on the M180 in Lincolnshire at 8.10am on October 6 2007 when a speed camera recorded him as exceeding the speed limit, clocking him at 85mph in the inside lane.
He said he had unsuccessfully fought his case in person before the magistrates and the Crown Court.
He then employed a legal team led by barrister Archie Maddan to fight his case in the High Court at a cost of some £8,000.
Gidden said: "In a way this is a matter of principle. Law enforcers have to work within the law to gain the respect of the general public.
"In many ways I think they are losing the respect of the middle-class general public which they have always needed, and had, in this country."
In his ruling, Lord Justice Elias said Gidden's appeal "must succeed", and Mr Justice Openshaw agreed.
Lord Justice Elias said: "The notice of intended prosecution was not sent in time and could not be regarded as having been properly served. "It follows that the conviction must be set aside."
He added: "I appreciate that this construction of the legislation may create problems for the police and prosecuting authorities, particularly when the postal service is on strike with the inevitable delays in delivery.
"The authorities must then adopt other means of warning, if they are to avoid the risk of late delivery.
"Alternatively, the remedy lies in the hands of Parliament by amending... the 1988 Act. "It is not, however, for the courts to overcome the resulting inconvenience by distorting the clear language which Parliament has adopted." The judge said alternatives included recorded delivery services or registered post, which were governed by different rules.
The one sent to Mr Gidden, of High Street, Dodworth, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire, took 16 days because of the backlog of undelivered mail built up after the strike in 2007.
Lord Justice Elias, sitting with Mr Justice Openshaw, ruled today the whole prosecution process was defective because the time limit had not been met, and Mr Gidden's conviction must be quashed.
He rejected arguments supported by lower courts that so long as prosecution warning notices were posted within 14 days - so that in ordinary circumstances they would arrive in time - they were deemed to have been properly served. Lord Justice Elias said: "This case raises an issue of some topicality given the current postal strike and is of no mere small interest."
He warned the police and prosecuting authorities not to use the first class post and said they must adopt other means of delivering "statutory notices of intended prosecution" (NIPs) if they were to avoid the risk of late delivery.
John Josephs, solicitor for Mr Gidden, said later: "One can only speculate about the impact of today's judgment.
"The police are aware of this situation. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has been advising their members not to use first class post for NIPs." Mr Josephs said today's case was unusual in that it had been conceded at the Crown Court that Mr Gidden's warning notice had arrived late because of industrial action.
He predicted that, in other cases, where there had been no such concession, it might still prove difficult for defendants to convince the courts notices had genuinely arrived out of time.
Mr Josephs said: "This judgment is not a cheat's charter.
"It means that if a notice is served late because of a postal strike, or for some other reason, it will still be up to the defendant to prove that before the court.
"This is not a floodgates case, but postal strikes may strengthen a defendant's claim not to have been properly served with a notice."
The court heard that first class post deliveries for NIPs was first allowed under an amendment introduced by the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. Prior to that notices were always served via registered post or recorded delivery, where there was a record to show they had actually been sent. Registered or recorded items are deemed to be served if sent to a defendant's last known address, even if they are returned as undelivered or not received for any other reason.
Lord Justice Elias suggested the same deeming provisions had not been extended to the first class post because of an "oversight".
But he said he could not rule out that it may have been deliberate Government policy, and it was for Parliament to make any changes that might now be necessary.
Just drop me a line at email@example.com and we will bring you the latest news on refunds.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
St. Alban's and Harpenden Review
Tuesday 27th October 2009
By Manisha Mistry »
DRIVERS given parking tickets by St Albans District Council could be entitled to a refund following a massive admin blunder.
The authority came under fire this week after a Traffic Penalty Tribunal investigating one man's £50 fine deemed all enforcements since March 30, 2008 invalid.
It was on this day that the district council's Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) - which is updated every year - came into force, however, the legal wording was not amended in line with new details in the Traffic Management Act 2004 (TMA).
Neil Herron the founder of national organisation Parking Appeals, which helps drivers overturn parking tickets, revealed all to the Review, exposing the severity of the district council's mistake.
Documents revealed to the Review disclose the adjudicator's decision which states: “Many of the provisions of the TRO were out of date and flawed rendering it substantially ineffective almost from the moment it came into operation.”
District council chief executive Daniel Goodwin has received a letter from Mr Herron informing him of the appeal decision and also of the stark reality that the council must suspend all enforcement of its off-street car parks covered by this invalid order. Meanwhile all pay and display machines must be covered up.
Mr Herron said: “As many across the country continue to suffer from aggressive stealth parking enforcement by many local authorities Christmas has come early for the city's motorists.”
A number of questions will remain unanswered until the district council reveals how many penalties have been issued since March 2008.
District council spokeswoman Davina Mansell said it would not be able to immediately comment on the story as Mr Goodwin is currently away.
Monday, October 26, 2009
As many across the country continue to suffer from aggressive stealth tax parking enforcement by many local authorities Christmas has come early for one city's motorists.
A recent decision by a Traffic Penalty Tribunal adjudicator has ruled the City and District of St. Alban's (Off Street Parking Places) Order 2008 INVALID.
This decision has far reaching implications because it follows similar drafting of previous orders and the 2009 Order follows the 2008 and all make reference to 'driver liability.'
Under Civil (formerly Decriminalised) Parking Enforcement it is the owner (or Registered Keeper) who is liable for the Penalty Charge NOT the driver. This fact is pretty fundamental and it is either crass incompetence, intransigence or arrogance that this council has not seen fit to get their own legal house in order since DPE powers were granted on 1st October 2004.
A full copy of the decision is shown below. The implications for the local authority are:
- enforcement in ALL the off-street car parks must be suspended immediately.
- ALL monies derived from PCNs MUST be refunded.
- ALL monies derived from permits MUST be refunded.
- ALL pay and display revenue MUST be refunded or given to charity.
- There must be a full, external investigation to ensure that no-one else is exposed to the risk of a loss from invalid legal instruments drafted by the council officers and that includes all aspects of the operation of the parking regime.
However, there are even more serious implications because the council informed the Department for Transport in advance of being granted DPE powers that this (checking of the lines, signs and TROs) had been done. Heads will have to roll and questions will have to be asked of the highly paid officials.
The letter to the Chief Executive to cease enforcement will be on his desk first thing in the morning. Meanwhile, anyone with a PCN drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
A list of the PCN numbers in the 'hotspot' car parks is shown below along with a full list of all off street car parks.
The adjudicator also ruled the PCN non-compliant so that has the potential to impact on all on-street PCNs as well.‘Popular’ Car Parks in 2007 –PCNs issued
• Adelaid Street 113
• Amenbury Lane 713
• Batchwood Hall 298
• Bowers Way East (Harpenden) 566.
• Bowers Way West (Harpenden) 1047
• Bricket Road 771
• Civic Centre 1540
• Drovers Way 182
• Gombards 775
• Verulamium 598
• Westminster Lodge 1777
• Bowers Way East (Harpenden) 566
• Bowers Way West (Harpenden) 1047
NOTE: These are just ‘popular hotspots for issuing PCNs,
9993 PCNs from just these in 2007
How many in 2008 and how may this year ?
How many since October 2004 ?
WESTMINSTER LODGE CAR PARKS, ST ALBANS
LYDEKKER CAR PARK HARPENDEN
BATCHWOOD HALL CAR PARKS
CHURCHEND CAR PARK SANDRIDGE
CRAVELLS ROAD CAR PARK HARPENDEN
EAST LANE CAR PARK WHEATHAMPSTEAD
HASELDINE ROAD CAR PARK LONDON COLNEY
HIGH STREET CAR PARK (VILLAGE HALL) REDBOURN
MARQUIS LANE CAR PARK HARPENDEN
NOMANSLAND COMMON CAR PARK WHEATHAMPSTEAD
PARK STREET CAR PARK (opposite ‘Swan’ Public House)
THE RIDGEWAY(Library) CAR PARK ST ALBANS
SOUTHVIEW ROAD CAR PARK HARPENDEN
ADELAIDE STREET CAR PARK ST ALBANS
AMENBURY LANE CAR PARK HARPENDEN
BOWERS WAY EAST CAR PARK HARPENDEN
BOWERS WAY WEST CAR PARK HARPENDEN
CLARENCE PARK CAR PARK ST ALBANS
BRICKET ROAD NORTH cAR PARK ST ALBANS
CIVIC CENTRE THREE LEVEL CAR PARK ST ALBANS
ST ALBANS CITY CENTRE MSCP DROVERS WAY
GOMBARDS CAR PARK ST ALBANS
LONDON ROAD CAR PARKS ST ALBANS
ST ALBANS CITYCENTRE MSCP
RUSSELL AVENUE SECTION ST ALBANS
TOWNSEND AVENUE CAR PARK ST ALBANS
VERULAMIUM CAR PARK ST ALBANS
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Wonder how many other council officers have done something similar?
The District Auditor's Report can be read here
Council guilty of bogus report
SEA DEFENCES ... Maribe Drive in June 2004
14 December 2004
SCARBOROUGH Council wrote a bogus report and broke the law over contracts for its sea defence scheme, a shocking new report reveals today.
The Audit Commission has said the council failed to put contracts out to tender, which is against the law, and ignored concerns of its legal staff and external lawyers. The Commission's report says the Government could now decide to withdraw part of its funding for the scheme.
This could mean taxpayers having to foot a £3.1 million bill for preliminary work on the Marine Drive project by the council's consultants, plus fees. The council gave the work to its favoured consultants High Point Rendel – and an officer compiled a bogus report to justify the awarding of the contract. High Point Rendel has now doubled its charges from £1.2 million to £2.4 million. Senior Scarborough Council members today said they are planning an internal investigation.
Scarborough Council has said people "should not assume" that tax payers will have to foot the bill.Its group leaders are likely to recommend a full investigation be carried out during a meeting of the cabinet later this month.
The auditor's report states: "In relation to several coastal protection schemes there is a compelling case for bringing to the attention of the public what I consider to be significant shortcomings in the way the council managed the projects and failed to fully protect the interests of local and national taxpayers. "In my view the adequacy of the appointment process, the specification and the terms agreed with High Point Rendel were not sufficiently robust."
A bogus 'best value evaluation' exercise was prepared by an officer to justify the award of work to High Point Rendel. Procurement regulations were not complied with and in my opinion the appointment was unfair and unlawful. "The terms and conditions of the Government grant have not been met and there is a risk of the council now having to finance the advice and supervision costs. "The failure to enter into a lawful and fair contractual relationship with High Point Rendel has exposed the council to the unnecessary risk of financial loss and poor value for money."
Other schemes awarded to the company and which have been found to have broken procedure are Holbeck to Scalby Mills strategy, Robin Hood's Bay and the Haggerlythe, and Staithes Harbour.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Welsh Local Government Association
08 July 2008
Savings are being made across North Wales and the local regulation of parking significantly improved for local residents and businesses as a result of an innovative partnership across four local authorities.
A team of just five people who make up a shared service centre for the ‘Wales Penalty Processing Partnership’ is responsible for processing all the penalty notices across Denbighshire, Gwynedd, Isle of Anglesey and Wrexham and are achieving collection rates for parking fines that are 15% over and above the UK average.
Councillor Eryl Williams (Denbighshire County Council), Spokesperson for the Wales Penalty Processing Partnership said: “The shared service centre is saving money and time. Denbighshire was the first council in North Wales to take on civil enforcement powers for parking.
We have built on our experience to establish an innovative shared service centre which has saved the other partners 33% of the operating costs it would have cost to run the service on their own.
Furthermore over £100,000 has been saved in set up costs.”
“Local authorities issue penalty notices for parking so that they can work with local people to ensure that vehicles are parked where it best suits local residents and businesses. We all need the local regulation of parking but we must ensure that is provided at the lowest possible cost.” “We expect further benefits as more councils join the partnership and we take on processing environmental penalties like dog fouling, fly tipping, graffiti and littering for partners who wish to undertake environmental enforcement.”
“The partnership is a powerful enabler to take on civil enforcement of parking. For example, it can help tackle some difficult parking issues in town centres for the benefit of residents and can ease town centre traffic flows.
Furthermore it can help to improve health and safety in shopping areas and town centres as well as protecting the interests of disabled drivers by regulating the behaviour of other motorists.”
Steve Thomas, Chief Executive, Welsh Local Government Association added: “The WLGA was instrumental in the set up of this partnership through the Regional Partnership Board for North Wales.
It is an excellent demonstration of the potential benefits of councils working together to deliver both efficiencies and service benefits. I look forward to more pace setting initiatives like this from North Wales.”
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