Monday, November 23, 2009

Council avoids repaying fortune in parking fees

This is Exeter
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."

No comments:

Blog Archive

only search Neil Herron Blog