Saturday, January 31, 2009

Newcastle City Council's refund dilemma ...

As Newcastle City Council's lawyers deliberate over the blunder that has seen the Council enforcing parking tickets in areas where signs were being used to indicate the effect of a Traffic Order which they revoked in 2001 the BBC headline below highlights what will have to be done.

The Department for Transport have confirmed that the problem £30 Fixed Daily Charge signs were to be authorised for use with a specific Traffic Order and that order was revoked in 2001. Since then the council have issued 185,000 £30 charges which have not been underpinned by any legal authority.

However, it is understood that this is one of the reasons why the DfT have postponed Newcastle's attempt to replace the criminalised parking enforcement regime they have at present with the more lucrative civil parking enforcement regime.

When an identical situation arose in Ceredigion an admission was made immediately and every attempt was to be made to refund the money.

We expect Newcastle City Council to confirm the areas affected and confirm that enforcement will be stopped until the signs are removed or until they are given Special Authorisation from the Secretary of State for their use. Failure to do so could lead to the courts being clogged with re-opened cases and appeals ... and an even bigger cost burden.

Refunds after parking fine error
BBC 10th December 2008
One of the 14 streets in which fines were incorrectly issued
Thousands of parking tickets are estimated to have been wrongly issued to motorists in a seaside town over the last two years after a mistake.

Ceredigion Council and Dyfed-Powys Police said people fined for parking in Aberystwyth town centre since November 2006 could apply for their £30 back.
They are trying to trace those affected by the "systems failure".

The error was found when the council went to renew a traffic order and found the original had not been updated.

Police said their officers and council wardens would not be issuing £30 parking tickets until a traffic order was in place in the new year.
In the meantime, drivers have been urged to park sensibly and warned they could still be booked for obstruction.

Alfred Place
Bath Street
Baker Street
Corporation Street
Crynfryn Row
Eastgate Street
Great Darkgate Street
Market Street
Owain Glyndwr Square
Portland Road
Portland Street
Queen's Road
Terrace Road
Upper Portland Street

It is thought the blunder could cost cash-strapped Ceredigion council thousands of pounds.
Officials said the error came to light when it tried to update a town centre "experimental traffic order".
A council spokesman said: "Both the county council and the Dyfed-Powys Constabulary are working in close collaboration to attend to the issues arising from the systems failure that occasioned the experimental traffic order, covering the Aberystwyth town centre traffic restraint area, not being updated in November 2006.

"All parties are united in their resolve to assist members of the public deserving refunds on parking tickets issued during the interim period. It is expected that a new order will be in place early in January 2009."
Chief Inspector Robyn Mason of Aberystwyth police said many motorists could be affected.
He added: "There could be thousands of motorists eligible for refunds, and we are doing our best to trace them."
Ch Insp Mason asked motorists to collate as much information as possible when applying for a refund.
People issued with a ticket in the town centre since 11 November 2006 could qualify.
They are asked to contact the council's highways department, quoting the reference TM2008.

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