Sunday, August 09, 2009

Another victory as Camden caves in ... but beware the smokescreen

Please try and keep a straight face when you read that Camden had decided to refund credit card surcharges across all council services "as a goodwill move."
Is it the fear of litigation that has brought about this change of heart?

Harrow, Merton and Kingston are set to follow suit.

Perhaps councils will start to understand that they too must respect the law. After years of fining motorists for the most minor of contraventions and using parking enforcement as a stealth tax it now seems that those days are not only numbered but likely to come with a very heavy price indeed.

We will shortly be revealing which councils outside of London are set for a nasty shock as they too fall foul of just wanting a little too much blood.
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Council to repay credit card levy
BBC 9th August 2009

Camden Council in London has scrapped a policy only introduced in January of levying an extra fee to taxpayers for processing money paid by credit card.
The move follows a ruling by an appeals body that applying a card surcharge made an entire parking fine unlawful.

The council said it was still looking at that ruling but meanwhile was abandoning the handling fee across all council services as a "goodwill move".
Parking fee lobby group Parking Appeals said the move was a "smokescreen".

The council said processing bills through credit cards was costing the authority about £250,000 a year and the charge had been introduced to recover those costs.
"This fee has now been suspended across all council services, and those people who have paid a credit card charge may apply for a refund," the council said.

'Legal action'
The council has given out £26m in parking fines this year and stopped levying the credit card handling fee after the ruling by the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service.
The authority says it is still considering what to do about that decision but has meanwhile stopped levying the credit card charge across all its services, not just on parking fines.

Neil Herron, from pressure group Parking Appeals, claimed the move was a "smokescreen to cover their actions".
"I hope the council do not think that by refunding the credit card surcharge across all its council services they will avoid repaying the entire parking fines to the thousands of motorists who have been unlawfully penalised," he said.
"The entire fines have been ruled unlawful, not just the surcharges for paying by credit card.
"If they do not abide by the appeal tribunal ruling, we will not hesitate to take legal action."

A council spokesman said the authority was expected to decide within a fortnight what action to take following the appeal panel's decision, which was handed down in June.

The ruling could also affect many other boroughs, including Harrow, Merton and Kingston, which had also charged extra to pay tickets by credit card.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ALL Fines without a Conviction are UNLAWFUL anyway!

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