Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Councils launch parking website ... but they have missed a vital piece of information for the motorist

Doesn't seem to be anything on the site pointing out to the motorist in the clearest terms that PATROL is paid for at the rate of 60p per Penalty Charge Notice and that the PATROL Joint Committee (the councils) appoints the adjudicators and is responsible for their remuneration. It also fails to point out that Manchester City Council is the lead authority.

The next blog post will reveal the answers to some Parliamentary Questions.

At all times what must be borne in mind is that under Article 6(i) ECHR you have the right to be heard by an independent tribunal and that that it is a breach of Article 6 if it is perceived that the tribunal is not independent.

Councils relaunch new and improved parking information site
Hannah Wooderson for 24dash.com
in Communities , Local Government
6th April 2009

A group of over 200 councils have come together to re-launch their public information website today (Monday 6 April) www.patrol-uk.info.

The 200+ councils make up the Joint Committee of England and Wales for the Civil Enforcement of Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London. Their new-look PATROL site has been improved to take into account the 12-months of user-feedback received since its launch last year, when the Traffic Management Act 2004 came into effect.

PATROL aims to be a one stop shop for motorists, providing clear and accessible information about parking and bus lane regulations, and guiding people through the ensuing, and often complex, enforcement process – a subject of great interest to local residents.The site promotes a ‘pay it or challenge it’ theme, encouraging people to either challenge a notice they believe they have received unfairly or pay early to avoid a larger fine. It also features a useful flowchart, so that people can easily identify where they are in the process.

PATROL, and the Joint Committee which sponsors it, is an excellent example of partnership working from councils. The group is committed to working together to provide consistent information to motorists. The site has a search option, so people can identify whether their local council is part of the scheme, and also includes direct links to local information via council websites, to enable them to check whether particular circumstances apply to their locality.

Chair of the PATROL Joint Committee, Councillor Ken Gregory said: “The PATROL website is an excellent example of how collaboration and partnership working between councils can succeed. The main aim was to present complex information about the enforcement process which is common to all councils and translate this into clear information for motorists. We’re pleased to have received such a lot of useful feedback from motorists and have taken these views on board to inform the redesign.”

PATROL also has a general information section, which provides a series of simple hints and tips for avoiding Penalty Charge Notices.PATROL’s Head of Service, Louise Hutchinson, said: “The PATROL Joint Committee is committed to providing a single point of access for motorists, and we hope that the new-look website will help us to build greater public understanding of parking issues, traffic management and motorists’ rights.”



Alan stanton said...

Thanks for this post Neil.

Seems to be one giant leap by local authorities - even if only one small step for a motorist.

The chart showing the stages of challenge-appeal etc were at least an attempt at a clear helpful guide. Though they also illustrate just how complex the whole process is.

The links to legislation were also useful - though I can imagine that trying to wade through this would put many people off.

I also wonder if this site complies with the WAI (Website Accessibility Initiative) guidelines? I'm very shortsighted and couldn't read some of the pages easily. They have tiny grey print; and some have white-on-yellow arrows.

I also couldn't find any examples of why someone might want to challenge a PCN for wrongly marked signs and lines. Is it there and I've missed it?

What I hope this shows is that the penny is dropping at both Government and local authority level that:
* many people don't see the current system as fair;
* some local authorities behave as if they are above the law and
* this situation is corrosive of people's remaining trust in local councils, council officers, and elected councillors (like me).


wonkotsane said...

Surely offering a discount for not exercising your right to defend yourself - effectively a financially penalty for exercising your rights - is also illegal? They're basically saying "look, you can appeal if you want but if you lose it's going to cost you". How can you have a fair trial if a financial penalty is looming over you if you lose, on top of your costs? Someone might qualify for legal aid to challenge a fine because they're destitute but still be unable to have access to justice because of the financial penalty.

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