Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Another big parking High Court case set to expose the 'independent' parking adjudication service

It has taken years to force Manchester City Council to admit that all Traffic Penaltty Tribunal staff are employed by the council. Do you perceive that you will get a fair hearing?

Boost for legal bid to win back millions in parking ticket refunds
Yorkshire Post
31 August 2009
By Alexandra Wood

A LANDMARK parking ticket case which could see millions of pounds being refunded to motorists has been given a major boost.
The legal bid by engineer Glenn Dickinson, who was landed with five parking tickets after parking on a verge near his home in Hull, will be heard by the High Court later this year.Mr Dickinson, 62, believes the system where tickets are issued by councils and policed by a body called the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, is illegal.

Now new information has come to light which raises fresh doubts about the independence of the TPT. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act have confirmed that administrative staff working at the "independent" tribunal, including the tribunal manager, are Manchester City Council employees – in apparent contravention of European Human Rights legislation.

Mr Dickinson, who could lose his home and business if his legal action fails, says the new evidence is vital: "Article 6(i) of the European Convention on Human Rights allows me to have my case heard before an independent tribunal."How on earth can a body be perceived to be independent when its staff are all employed by the council and the people who are charging the fine are paying the people who adjudicate it?"

He said: "It was a nightmare getting the information out of them – it took more than 70 requests."They have finally admitted that the head of the administrative staff is employed and paid for by Manchester Council."
The adjudicators are appointed by them and sanctioned by the Lord Chancellor. However they are employed and paid by the council."The judicial system states quite categorically that in order for it to be totally independent it must have no connection however small, either monetary or personal, with one party or the other."

He said: "I am doing this because the council tried to rip me off for five parking tickets. Leader of Hull Council Carl Minns said on Politics North, on BBC1: "What's a splash of yellow paint?" It made my blood boil because it shows total contempt that the council have for the people and businesses of Hull – they use us as cash cows."

The tickets were issued under the Decriminalised Parking Enforcement scheme, which allowed councils to take over parking enforcement and keep the money raised from fines. The Traffic Penalty Tribunal is the final stage of appeal for motorists against a penalty issued by a council in England and Wales, outside London.

However it is totally reliant on income from parking tickets – 60p on each ticket issued. Manchester Council is the lead authority, "the headquarters" for parking enforcement for the whole country outside London.

Mr Dickinson is being supported by Neil Herron, campaign director for the pressure group Metric Martyrs and the Motorists' Legal Challenge Fund.

Mr Herron said: "We are not opposed to proper fair parking enforcement but what we have now is a stealth tax which is used by councils to fill holes in their budget and the motoring public has become a victim."

Mr Dickinson challenged the tickets at TPT, formerly the National Parking Adjudication Service, but had his case rejected twice. As a result he took the case to the High Court. Mr Justice Ouseley allowed an adjournment to provide time to compile evidence against the national Deregulated Parking Enforcement scheme and the TPT.

Last December leave was granted for a full review which is expected to be heard towards the end of the year.

Manchester Council said it would be inappropriate to comment.

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