Thursday, December 16, 2010

Carlisle Council quashes drive's car park fine after public outcry.


Carlisle council quashes driver's car park fine after public outcry
By Thom Kennedy - 14th December 2010
News & Star

A motorist whose parking ticket caused an outpouring of public support has had his penalty
notice cancelled.
Donald Austin parked his Jaguar in the space at the edge of the civic centre car park in Lowther Street, most of demand pay display tickets, and paid for his ticket
However, he was in a disc space, where he would have received limited free parking time had he placed the disc in the window. He received a parking ticket but refused to pay his fine, saying the ticket he bought contained all the relevant information. Now Ray Bloxham, the Carlisle City Council portfolio holder for local enviroment, has stepped in to cancel his fine.
Mr Austin said he had been stopped in the street by people supporting his cause after reading The proof of the pudding is that the ticket has been revoked," Mr Austin said. "There has been an awful lot of interest in this, i had several calls at home and i have been stopped in the street.
about it in the news. ""I was due to go on the radio to tell the story again, but i said i would like somebody to come from the city council to argue their case, and i would prove them wrong.
The next thing i heard was when i got a call back saying the ticket had been revoked."
The story had produced a great deal of interest when it appeared in the News & Star, and more than 50 web comments appeared underneath the story, the majority of which supported Mr Austins fight. It could lead to retraining for wardens to prevent tickets been issued to cars with pay and display tickets, which show the time it arrives in the space.

Mr Bloxham said: "I spoke to Mr Austin and apologised most profusley for the difficulties he has had, and i asked the director to see if the charge could be cancelled.
"In all fairness he was within the limit."

When asked about whether other motorists could expect tickets in similar situations, Mr Bloxham added: " I'm sure we will be having some retraining , possibly in people's attitude to that.
"If you come to one of these spaces and put a note in the window and by the time an attendant comes its over that time you would expect a fine, but if its within the time i wouldnt expect that."

Monday, December 13, 2010

BBC Politics Show ...

The BBC Politics Show discloses the advice from leading traffic law expert Stephen Sauvain QC which highlighted the failings of Scarborough and other North Yorkshire CPZs. This 'advice' also indicates that monies taken from motorists in areas where the signage is non-compliant must be refunded.

To date, the Department for Transport refused to make this advice available to the High Court in the case of Herron v The Parking Adjudicator but now that this information has been made public and the decision in the Moss case explicitly reaffirms the requirement for signs to strictly comply with the law then hopefully this will put an end to the nonsense spouted by some councils and adjudicators the a sign is okay if 'no reasonable person could be misled.'

Our sources say that a great deal of panic has ensued in many town halls from officers fearing that their continued enforcement of known non-compliant signage may well result in a visit and an investigation. The first court case for misconduct in public office is listed in Exeter for February. May I be so bold as to suggest that this will not be the last?



Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Huddersfield Police Station parking bay is 'illegal'

In light of the decision of Justice Ouseley in the High Court Moss v KPMG it seems as though Kirklees Council now have themselves in a bit of a pickle. Accounts not signed off and more admissions of illegal bays ... a highways and parking department not fit for purpose. Now let's see how quickly they refund their unlawfully derived income ... Adur Council were exemplary in their actions.

Huddersfield Examiner
December 8th

Parking chiefs have been left red-faced yet again after it was revealed that the 'police vehicles only' parking bay outside Huddersfield's town centre police station is not lawful.

Drawings taken from the Department for Transport website show the Albion Street bay should be marked in yellow paint but it is painted white. The blunder comes only a few years after the Examiner revealed that Huddersfield Town Halls permit parking bay was illegal. The Ramsden Street parking space, only a few yards away from the police bay is used by the mayor and other dignitaries. It was painted yellow when it should have been painted white. Following the Examiner's story they bay was repainted within 48 hours.

Parking law expert Neil Herron, director of http://www.parkingappeals.co.uk/, said Kirklees was one of the worst local authorities for playing by the rules. Mr Herron, who has appeared on TV and radio programmes, said "its not a police parking bay, its simple as that. there are councils accross the country that have made similar errors painting white lines that should be yellow. There not traffic signs and its not lawful. It shows a sloppy attitude to their legal responsibilities, its not difficult to get the lines and signs corrected."

In 2008 the Examiner revealed almost 100 parking zones in the district failed to comply with the law. The expose showed illegal bays in Batley, Holmfirth, Cleckeaton, Heckmondwike and almost every neighbourhood in huddersfield. At the time Mr Herron accused Kirklees Council of catching motorists with unlawful parking fines and called for parking enforcements to be suspended.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Virtual bays unveiled by Herron ...

Neil Showed how freight deliveries can be simplified
TransportXtra

A new system for actively managing kerbspace to enable freight deliveries to be made without incurring parking penalties was unveild at parking management 2010 by Neil Herron of Activ8 (Virtual Parking Solutions).

Herron, best known for running www.parkingappeals.co.uk , revealed a real-time vehicle tracking and space ACTIV8 Virtual Parking Solutions at the conference.
"Parking is not always about parking, its often about loading and unloading vehicles," he said "There are differing kerbside needs for different kerbusers, blue badge holders and the ordinary motorists. We need to promote active management rather than blanket enforcement." A traffic management perspective emphasises the need to keep kerbside spaces turning over. Herron said the problem is that restricted kerbspace is being used at a time which is convenient to commercial vehicle drivers and not when it is conducive to smoothing traffic flows.
Herron said: "The penalty charge notice (PCN) commercial drivers receive is not managing the kerbside, it is effectively a £60 dispensation to park where and when they like, on zigzags, in disabled bays or double yellow lines." Delivery companies and their clients absorb the cost of enforcement. "Commercial operators, freight transport industry, coach operators and the utility companies are paying 500m a year in PCNs for servicing customers and there is a further 100m admin charge for dealing with all those tickets," he said.
Herron said that he developed the Activ8 Virtual Parking Solutions while handling parking penalty appeals for commercial operators. "The first thing we do is train drivers on where they can and cannot park. However, once you start knocking off the hotpots and start working alternative delivery areas you quickly get to a point where drivers have to park in contravention. The question then is what's the least worst time you can choose for a delivery."
Simply creating more loading bays will not work as the public will park in them, he said. " We need an innovative approach to differentiating users." The 'Virtual Parking Bay' system was devised by Herron utilising innovative patented GPS technology developed by Dr Phillip Tann, a lecturer at Sunderland University, who made headlines when accused of doing 42mph in a 30mph zone. Dr Tann was testing out prototype GPS/GPRS telemetry so presented data iat the court which proved he was doing 29mph. Herron saw how this system could be adapted to create real-time vehicle tracking and destination managment system.
"The answer is to create journey certainty." he said. "If you are on a journey from A-to-B the best thing is to know there is a guaranteed space when you arrive. With a virtual parking space you are saving CO2 emisions, fuel use and man hours. And it smoothes traffic flow." The Fleetm8 system has undergone initial trials at Westminster City Council and DHL Tradeteam, and the virtual loading bay solution emerged from those trials. "with the virtual parking bay we have created a system where you book your kerbside loading space in real-time dispensation to park on the higway. local authorities will 'risk-assess' the bays some of which may only be available for two or three hours a day when it least impinges on traffic flow."
Delivery companies using Fleetm8 (or other telemetry incorporating the bespoke software) are able to pre-book a slot in the virtual parking bay. The virtual parking bays are only visible to a vehicle's onboard telemetry and are effectively real-time, site specific exemptions. The delivery driver's in-cab GPS device or PDA receives details of the delivery window. The local authority's civil enforcement officers' GPS-enabled handhelds also receive real-time details of vehicle with a booked arrival so that they know not to issue a PCN.
"It is possible to create virtual 'geofences' which when breached by the delivery vehicle, send an automated alert to the person expecting delivery so they can be ready for the arrival so as to further reduce loading time. When the lorry leaved, it breaches the virtual polygon forming the bay so that it becomes available for someone else to book. This is managing retricted kerbspace rather than just enforcing it."

Herron said the concept can be used off-street too, with a geo fence created at the entrance and exit. Virtual bays offer local authorities a revenue stream because operators are prepared to pay for guaranteed loading slots. Herron said: "ACTIV8 would be a positive revenue model for the authorities based on the provision of a service with a traffic managment benefit and something which commercial operators from delivery companies, couriers, coach operators and utility companies have expressed and desire to see implemented."

Monday, December 06, 2010

Is this the end for the Penalty Charge Notice for commercial operators?

Virtual bays unveiled by Herron
Neil Herron showed how freight deliveries can be simplified
Parking Review
November 2010

A new system for actively managing kerbspace to enable freight deliveries to be made without incurring parking penalties was unveiled at Parking Management 2010 by Neil Herron of Activ8 (Virtual Parking Solutions).

Herron, best known for running www.parkingappeals.co.uk, revealed a real-time vehicle tracking and space ACTIV8 Virtual Parking Solution at the conference. “Parking is not always about parking, it is often about loading and unloading vehicles,” he said. “There are differing kerbside needs for different kerbside users. The challenge is recognising and differentiating between commercial users, blue badge holders and the ordinary motorist. We need to promote active management rather than blanket enforcement.”

A traffic management perspective emphasises the need to keep kerbside spaces turning over. Herron said the problem is that restricted kerbspace is being used at a time which is convenient to commercial vehicle drivers and not when it is conducive to smoothing traffic flows. Herron said: “The penalty charge notice (PCN) commercial drivers receive is not managing the kerbside, it is effectively a £60 dispensation to park where and when they like, on zigzags, in disabled bays or double yellow lines.”

Delivery companies and their clients absorb the cost of enforcement. “Commercial operators, freight transport industry, coach operators and the utility companies are paying £500m a year in PCNs for servicing customers, and there is a further £100m admin charge for dealing with all those parking tickets,” he said.

Herron said that he developed the Activ8 Virtual Parking Solution while handling parking penalty appeals for commercial operators. “The first thing we do is train drivers on where they can and cannot park. However, once you start knocking off the hotspots and working out alternative delivery areas you quickly get to a point where drivers have to park in contravention. The question then is what’s the least worst time you can choose for a delivery.”

Simply creating more loading bays will not work as the public will park in them, he said. “We need an innovative approach to differentiating user.”

The ‘Virtual Parking Bay’ system was devised by Herron utilising innovative, patented GPS technology developed by Dr Phillip Tann, a lecturer at Sunderland University, who made headlines when accused of doing 42mph in a 30mph zone. Dr Tann was testing out prototype GPS/GPRS telemetry so presented data at the court which proved he was doing 29mph. Herron saw how this system could be adapted to create real-time vehicle tracking and destination management system. “The answer is to create journey certainty,” he said. ”If you are on a journey from A-to-B the best thing is to know there is a guaranteed space when you arrive. With a virtual parking space you are saving CO2 emissions, fuel use and man hours. And it smoothes traffic flow.”

The Fleetm8 system has undergone initial trials with Westminster City Council and DHL Tradeteam, and the Virtual Loading Bay Solution emerged from those trials. “With the virtual parking bay we have created a system where you book your kerbside loading space in real-time, effectively a real-time dispensation to park on the highway. Local authorities will ‘risk-assess’ the bays, some of which may only be available for two or three hours a day when it least impinges on traffic flow.”

Delivery companies using Fleetm8 (or other telemetry incorporating the bespoke software) are able to pre-book a slot in a virtual parking bay. The virtual bays are only visible to a vehicle's on-board telemetry and are effectively real-time, site specific exemptions. The delivery driver’s in-cab GPS device or PDA receives details of the delivery window. The local authority’s civil enforcement officers’ GPS-enabled handhelds also receive real-time details of vehicles with a booked arrival so that they know not to issue a PCN.

“It is possible to create virtual ‘geo fences’ which, when breached by the delivery vehicle, send an automated alert the person expecting delivery so they can be ready for the arrival so as to further reduce loading time. When the lorry leaves, it breaches the virtual polygon forming the bay so that it becomes available for someone else can book. This is managing restricted kerbspace rather than just enforcing.”

Herron said the concept can be used off-street too, with a geo fence created at the entrance and exit.

Virtual bays offer local authorities a revenue stream because operators are prepared to pay for guaranteed loading slots. Herron said: “ACTIV8 would be a positive revenue model for the authorities based on the provision of a service with a traffic management benefit and something which commercial operators from delivery companies, couriers, coach operators and utility companies have expressed a desire to see implemented.”

PiP frameworks revised after European ruling


European Commission upholds procurement complaint
Parking Review November 2010

Lee RowleyWestminster City Council has been found to have infringed European Union rules on local government procurement by the European Commission (EC). The commission investigated a complaint about the city council’s decision to enable members of the Partners in Parking (PiP) procurement group to join in its use of a mobile phone parking system rather than go through their own tendering process.

The EC was investigating a complaint originally made to the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), part of the UK government’s Cabinet Office. The anonymous complainant said the phone parking contract should have been re-tendered.

The EC?agreed with the complaint and asked the OGC to take “appropriate and adequate measures for the purpose of terminating the infringement in question”.

On 20 November the EC reoported: “Westminster committed to ensure that the public bodies, parties to the framework agreement, were restricted to those expressly listed in the contract documents. Furthermore, the Office of Government Commerce has published and updated guidance on the matter, ensuring adequate identification of the bodies permitted to use framework agreements. Finally, Westminster City Council decided to limit the duration of the framework agreement to the period permitted by law.”

The framework agreement is now restricted to four years and limited to PiP’s original members: Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Islington and Camden and Transport for London.
Lee Rowley, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for parking, said: “We cooperated fully with the European Commission and OGC. It’s important to note that there was no punitive action taken by the EU against the council. Indeed, if the council had committed a serious wrongdoing then the case would have been escalated to the European Court.”

There is no suggestion that phone system provider Verrus was at fault during the process.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Westminster Council in the spotlight


'No wrong-doing' council broke EU law
By Ed Davey 25 November 2010
BBC News, London


Council faces EU parking inquiry
A council has been censured by the European Commission for infringing contract laws - and criticised for earlier claiming in a press release it had been "cleared of any wrong-doing".

Westminster Council was the subject of an EU investigation after setting up Partners in Parking (PiP), which allowed local authorities to join forces to purchase cheap parking services.

Westminster was found to have infringed EU law


Transport for London and six local authorities in the city joined when it first started, hoping for a better deal from private parking enforcement firms.

Canadian company Verrus was awarded the contract to provide pay-and-display services, pay-by-phone, parking tickets and debt collection to the members.

Additional local authorities were then persuaded by Westminster City Council to join PiP but these contracts under European Union rules should have gone back out to tender rather than being passed automatically to Verrus.

This move prompted an investigation by the European Union after an un-named parking company complained about the process and the failure to put subsequent contracts out to tender.

But on 8 November Westminster Council released a statement saying an investigation by the European Commission into its parking contract "has cleared the authority of any wrongdoing".

Councillor Lee Rowley, Westminster's parking boss, said at the time: "We always maintained this contract was properly awarded following a tender process carried out in accordance with the law and we are obviously pleased that the EU has decided to close this case."

But BBC London has obtained documents showing the Commission found against Westminster Council and that it was ordered to make changes.

'Infringed EU law'

In an written statement it said: "The Commission considered that Westminster City Council has infringed EU law.
"The United Kingdom authorities recognised the Commission's allegations and committed to take appropriate and adequate measures for the purpose of terminating the infringement."

This statement was obtained by Gerard Batten, a Member of the European Parliament and also of UKIP.

Gerard Batten MEP said Westminster's press release was 'simply not true' He said: "The press release Westminster sent out is simply not true.
"They have not been cleared of any wrong-doing.
"They certainly were not let off scot-free."

He said he was not surprised the authority had put out "such a silly statement".

In light of the revelations, the BBC has learned some councils are considering withdrawing from PiP.

A head of parking at one of the PiP councils, speaking to the BBC on condition of anonymity, said: "The whole issue of legal capability has to be explained.
"I had the press release saying everything was in the clear.
"Then I received other information - now I am trying to ask how these things relate."

Asked if the council would now withdraw from PiP, the officer said: "Whether it is a deal-breaker I don't think we can say until they respond."

Westminster Council's initial claims followed an exchange of emails with the Office for Governmental Commerce (OGC), which dealt with the EU over the issue.

"Our earlier statement did not intend to mislead anyone”
Cllr Lee Rowley
Westminster Council

The OGC says it does not comment on individual cases but the BBC understands the OGC is privately adamant that Westminster's press release was inaccurate and the council should not have based its claims on their emails.

On Wednesday Cllr Rowley said: "Our assertion that we had been cleared of any wrong-doing was based on the fact the OGC had said that the Commission had closed the case.
"It was also based on the EU saying there had been a satisfactory outcome to its investigation.
"Our earlier statement did not intend to mislead anyone and it's important to note that there was no punitive action taken against the council."

PiP once had ambitions to go nationwide.

The minutes of its December 2009 board meeting read: "The board received a report to consider the recommendation enable non-London authorities to join PiP.

Expansion plans dropped

"An Associate Membership would be created in order to enable UK authorities outside London to take advantage of PiP procurements."

A PiP report from 2009 described Bristol, Maidstone, Swindon, Portsmouth, Birmingham, Chiltern and Oxford as having a "potential interest" in joining.

One PiP report referred to the "harmonisation" of a Westminster policy to charge motorcyclists for parking, promising to "review national policy context".

Bristol City Council was one of several authorities nationwide interested in PiP But Bristol Council raised concerns about PiP with regard to the legality of authorities outside London joining the organisation.

After the EU investigation began, expansion beyond London was shelved.

Westminster Council, which insists the EU probe did not affect the plans' termination, has since dismissed claims of national ambitions.

In July 2010 the then PiP chairman, Alastair Gilchrist, who is now strategic director of resources at Westminster Council, told other members: "Concerns about PiP's nationwide expansion are ill-conceived and regional savings are still at the heart of PiP's focus."

The EU's ruling means that only the seven authorities which first joined PiP - Westminster, the City of London, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Islington, Camden and Transport for London - may continue to use the Verrus contract.

An OGC advisory in light of the ruling suggests councils who subsequently joined PiP may be said to have made an "illegal award" of the contract to Verrus, if they used the company.

There is no suggestion of any wrong-doing by Verrus.

Enfield, Richmond, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Havering and Croydon joined PiP after its start date.

The BBC understands at least one of those authorities, Tower Hamlets, is now actively seeking to award a new contract.

Clamper convicted ...

Clamper sentenced for ‘bullying’ tactics
Get Reading
By Laura Herbert
November 25, 2010

A clamper who demanded hundreds of pounds from a Caversham motorist he claimed was illegally parked has become one of the first clampers prosecuted under new aggressive trading laws.

Regional Clamping Services (UK) Ltd boss Lee Peacock immobilised motoring journalist James Day’s Alfa Romeo in Mill Green, Caversham, on February 11.

The parking ticket was issued by the wheel-clamping company because, it said, Mr Day’s car was causing an obstruction, had no parking permit and because signs stated ‘strictly no parking’.

He was charged £170 for the vehicle to be towed, £150 for it to be clamped and £105 (£35 per day) for it to be kept in a compound in Iver, Buckinghamshire – a total of £425.

Mr Day, of nearby Queens Road, made the 30-mile trip to the compound two days later to have his car released.

Peacock, from Uxbridge, appeared at Brent Magistrates’ Court in London on November 2 where he admitted two bankruptcy offences, two counts of fraud and one of aggressive trading. The charges do not relate to Mr Day.

He is also accused of breaking the law by running Regional Clamping Services (UK) Ltd as he was disqualified as a director and from using the company name after his original business Regional Clamping Services Ltd went into liquidation in February 2009.

Peacock was sentenced to 16 weeks suspended for 18 months for both fraud counts to run concurrently, and 10 weeks suspended for 18 months for bankruptcy offences. Both sentences are to run consecutively.

He must also carry out 120 hours’ unpaid work, fined £500 and ordered to pay £3,433 in costs.

Mr Day, 27, said: “I’m pleased the law has finally caught up with him and I know Brent Trading Standards played a big part in bringing this crook to book.

“It’s just a shame it took a kind of loophole law to prosecute him rather than clamping being illegal in the first place, like in other parts of the UK.

“The sentence itself is too lenient for someone who has clearly profited huge amounts of money from his aggressive practices. Money that in most cases won’t find its way back to victims and in some cases caused distress as a result of intimidation.”

He added: “I hope residents who feel the need to have parking restrictions placed in their neighbourhoods think long and hard about who they employ to enforce them, especially as Mr Peacock already had an alleged history of malpractice before being prosecuted.”

Reading East MP Rob Wilson, who was contacted by Mr Day at the time, said of the sentencing: “I think this is a warning to all clamping companies that are sailing close to the wind that their behaviour is not going to be tolerated in the future.

“We came into Government with a clear mission to make sure companies that were being overly aggressive, bullying and working at the edges of the law are going to be dealt with.”

He added: “I am so pleased to see this case has gone to court and I hope other companies will learn from it.

“There are very reputable companies that do a reasonable job and work within the law. There’s no reason why all of these companies can’t do that.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Council runs for cover ...

Our press release went out yesterday from the Motorists Legal Challenge Fund offering to handle Irene's case and we are pleased to say that we will not be required. Our council insider reveals that the council read the blog here and thought better of it and cancelled the PCNs rather than getting into what would have been a very public spat.

Cowards’ back down over parking farce
Southend Echo
24th November 2010

A 90-YEAR-OLD woman has been spared from two parking tickets she received within the space of just 15 minutes, thanks to the Echo.

Yesterday, the Echo highlighted the plight of Irene Reynolds, who was given the fines after her disabled permit accidentally became partially obscured on two occasions.

Despite appealing against the tickets, Southend Council officials had refused to back down. However, after we intervened, officials looked again at the case and changed their minds.

Mrs Reynolds, who told the Echo she would rather serve time in jail than pay the fines, said: “I think they are cowards because I would have gone to prison.

“It is so pathetic.
“Too damn silly for words.”

Mrs Reynolds, of High Street, Old Leigh, who is recovering from a broken leg, got her first ticket when she inadvertently left a glove partially covering her permit.

She then dropped her friend in Leigh Broadway but, in gratitude for the lift, he left a Mars bar on her dashboard which, once again, partially obscured her permit.

She told how traffic wardens were thoroughly amused by the whole incident.

Mrs Reynolds, the former head of the old Westminster School in Westcliff, added: “They were laughing at me as they put the second ticket on the windscreen.

“They were awful.
“If I thought one of my former pupils had become a traffic warden like them I think I would feel I had done a poor job.
“I am 90 years old and in very poor health. I think they should have used their common sense in the first place.”

Derek Kenyon, the council’s parking manager, said: “We have considered this case very carefully, and on this occasion we will be cancelling these penalty charge notices.
“However, it is important to abide by the rules for the use of disabled parking badges, laid down by the Department for Transport.”

Ticketed motorist accuses council of unfair treatment

Very laudable by the council not to contest the decision due to the fact that they had not received the information from the DfT in time. They state:
"we decided not to contest the appeal while we fully confirmed that the signage is legitimate."

Such information, the use of non-prescribed signs, would require Special Authorisation from the Secretary of State for Transport. Let us hope that the council has now received this information to 'fully confirm' that their signage is legitimate.

This is Devon
By Emma Pearcy epearcy@heraldexpress.co.uk
23rd September 2010
A Teignmouth woman who successfully contested a parking ticket has accused highways and enforcment authorities of treating drivers unfairly.

Sheila Robinson claims a parking enforcment zone in the resort's Somerset Place is poorly signed.

But Teignbridge Council, which carries out enforcement action on behalf of Devon County Council, vociferously denied her claims saying it is signed properly and she 'got off' on a technicality.

The council says the area has always been correctly signed but confirmation from the Department of Transport did not arrive in time for Mrs Robinson's appeal.

Mrs Robinson successfully contested a ticket slapped on her car in Somerset Place in January.
She said: " A lot of people are not aware the area is part of the parking enforcement zone.
"I saw the signs warning motorists it's a parking enforcement zone are not in the right place.
"If you miss one there is nothing else to warn you that you are in a parking enforcement zone.
"I challenged the ticket because there was nothing to show me, as a law-abiding citizen, that it was an enforcement zone.
"Any logical thinking person would think they are not doing anything wrong."


Her appeal, against Teignbridge Council and Devon County Council as highways authority, was completed earlier this month after nine months and her ticket was cancelled.

She said: "There was no doubt in my mind I would succeed in my appeal."

A Teignbridge Council spokesman said: "This area is correctly signed, but an administrative issue meant we did not have the paperwork from the Department of Transport confirming its legitimacy to hand at the time of the appeal.

"Rather than spend taxpayers' money chasing this up within the short time frame allowed by an appeal, we decided not to contest the appeal while we fully confirmed that the signage is legitimate.
"On-street parking legislation is set by Devon County Council and enforced by Teignbridge Council on their behalf.
"The cost of the service, including dealing with challenges, is covered by the county council as part of a set service agreement, so appeals do not increase the cost of the service to the public. "While we appreciate a parking ticket is never welcome, the regulations are there for everyone's benefit. Any driver choosing to break the rules risks a ticket."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Show me the money!

Pressure on parking wardens will send their wages soaring
Felix Allen and Mark Blunden
London Evening Standard
22.11.10

Parking attendants will regularly double their wages as London's town halls urge them to issue more tickets to raise money to offset government cuts.

The warning follows revelations that a warden in one of the most deprived boroughs earned more than £50,000 last year.

Known as a Tower Hamlets Enforcement Officer, he earned £52,786 — more than some charity chief executives and four times a new nurse.

Another Tower Hamlets attendant was paid £44,319, despite a basic salary of £26,800.

Neil Herron, of the London Motorists' Action Group, said: “We hear that the guys who go out and ticket the best get the biggest bonuses, only they don't call it a bonus. We are repeatedly told there are no targets but how can anyone earn £53,000 if they're not being rewarded with some kind of bonus?”

Tower Hamlets said the “one-off” salaries consisted of overtime and pay reviews, with the average warden earning £26,800.

A council spokeswoman said: “Our civil enforcement officers do not receive any bonuses or payments related to the number of notices issued.”

Other boroughs paying high wages to parking attendants include Hounslow where one employee earned £42,524, and another, in Merton, £35,339.

A Mars a day keeps you fine(d)

Is this what parking enforcement is about?

90 year old Blue Badge Holder treated with contempt by laughing wardens... and then Southend Council refuses to cancel the PCNs. Shame on you all!

The Motorists Legal Challenge Fund has offered to take the case on and will guarantee that these PCNs will be cancelled otherwise they will pay the costs.

Irene, 90: I’ll go to jail rather than pay fines
22nd November 2010

A 90-YEAR-OLD woman says she’ll go to prison rather than pay two parking tickets she was given in the space of just 15 minutes.

Irene Reynolds found her car, parked near her home in Old Leigh High Street, had been given a ticket because she had accidentally left a glove covering part of her disabled permit.

Still seething about parking wardens’ meanness, she drove off to take a friend to Leigh Broadway, where she parked on Leigh Hill, near St Clement’s Church.

Her friend left her a Mars bar on the dashboard as a thank you present for the lift – and it covered part of her parking permit. The result: Another ticket.

Retired headmistress Mrs Reynolds, who is recovering from a broken leg, said of the second incident: “I parked on double yellow lines, which I’m allowed do with my permit, but I saw two traffic wardens nearby and, not wanting to take any more chances, asked them if I was all right where I had parked. They said I was fine.

“I popped in to a nearby store and when I came back, I could see the wardens standing there laughing their heads off. I hobbled as fast as I could to the car, but was horrified to find another ticket.

“My friend had left a Mars bar on the dashboard for me, to say thanks for the lift, but he had accidentally put part of the chocolate over my permit.”

Mrs Reynolds pleaded with the wardens, but they refused to let her off. She later appealed to Southend Council, which refused to waive the tickets.

The former head of the old Westminster School, in Westcliff, added: “I couldn’t believe they could all be so heartless. I know you have to display the permit clearly, but it wasn’t completely covered. It was quite obvious I had a permit. I absolutely refuse to pay these fines.
“I will go to prison before I pay a penny. It’s too silly for words and just so unfair.”

The council has promised to look into the incidents after the Echo raised them with it.

Parking manager Derek Kenyon said: “A detailed investigation into these notices, is now under way. We hope to resolve this by next week.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Times Magazine ...first time for everything

Drove round Sunderland with Matt and detailed the many failings of a mismanaged system of enforcement, not just in Sunderland but across the country. As councils start their 'we need to raise PCN levels' kite flying exercise a very bright spotlight is about to be shone on an 'industry' that has failed to self-regulate and whose failings have been regularly ignored by all and sundry. When it has come under scrutiny and challenge by the public in Dave's Big Society those individuals have been treated with disproportionate costs. The truth will eventually out and there are some very worried council officers (serving and former) who may well suffer at the hands of their former colleagues.

I'll only be parking my car here for a couple of minutes
Matt Rudd
21 November 2010


The meter is ticking for traffic wardens, but don't rejoice yet. The smart computers that are replacing them can spot a transgression a mile away.

Tuesday. 1600 hours. A windowless control room somewhere deep in an anonymous Marylebone office block, central London, and it’s all very Spooks. I am sitting next to Donald, nickname: the Godfather.
From his bank of computer screens, he can control more than 100 cordless cameras across London, but right now we’re focused on just one.

With the help of joystick controls, we have our target locked: the man is sitting in his sleek black Mercedes on Harley Street. From his relaxed demeanour, it is clear he has no idea we’re watching him or that, in 13 seconds, he’s toast. Ten, nine, eight… it’s the point in the operation where all the training comes in…
Five, four, three… Come to papa. Two, one… boom! Target eliminated.

Well, okay, not eliminated. But that’s more than two minutes and one second parked on a single yellow line between the hours of 8.30am and 6.30pm, Mr Mercedes Driver. No explosion, no sniper’s bullet, but in about 10 days’ time, you will be receiving a £60 parking ticket. Kapow.
This is just the start: the traditional traffic warden is dead. The cyber-enforcement officer is taking over I am willing to accept that the parking-enforcement headquarters of Westminster council are not quite as glamorous as the MI6 headquarters across the river, but it is certainly futuristic. And while MI6 might be concerned with dirty bombs, terror cells and agents in holdalls, Donald and his colleagues are after you. Yes, you. The illegal parker. They are the traffic wardens of the future. They sit at their terminals — up to 10 of them at a time — prowling the streets virtually, via wi-fi CCTV.

This is the first time anywhere in the world that remote, wireless cameras have been used to enforce parking. They find an illegally parked car, they video it for that very precise, very legally binding two minutes and one second, and they issue the ticket.
Five or six an hour is a good rate of attack — and all from the comfort of a swivel chair. Donald prefers it to his days issuing tickets on the actual streets. You get less hassle, he says, but “not as much exercise”.

The £1.3m annual contract for the CCTV operation is outsourced to the private company NSL (“intelligent urban management solutions for the public and private sector”), which is the largest employer of enforcement officers in the country. They are very proud of Donald and his team. They’ve already shown him off to several British councils, the Icelanders and the Norwegians. Next week, a delegation from Stockholm will drop in. Everyone has been terribly enthusiastic. Everyone, I’m guessing, except the man in the black Mercedes when, in a few days, he opens that official-looking envelope from Westminster council (the printing of which, by the way, is outsourced to another joyless office in Scotland).

The purist would argue that Mercedes man deserves it. He shouldn’t have parked on the single yellow line in the first place. Donald points out that when they first put one of the cameras in Soho’s Old Compton Street, they were issuing 50 tickets a day. Now, this has reduced to a trickle — and the road is clear. To demonstrate, he flicks his screen to Old Compton Street and shows me how devoid of cars it is. “Everyone knows not to park illegally down there,” he says, proudly.
To the rest of us, getting ticketed by a man watching you from 1.8 miles across town with a two-minute stopwatch might seem a bit, well, unfair. Officious. An infringement of one’s God-given right to wi-fi-free fair play.

But this is just the start: the traditional traffic warden is dead. The cyber-enforcement officer is taking over. Westminster’s multi-million-pound black ops is at the forefront of a step-change in parking control. It’s getting smarter, it’s getting more technical and it’s getting harder to avoid.

Banksy’s fantasy of a steamrolled traffic warden in Lewisham

Six years ago, 6m parking tickets were issued in England alone. Last year, that figure reached 9m. That’s 9m £60 fines. Or 9m days ruined. Only 1% of offenders bother to appeal. The rest accept their fate and pay up. The threat of the fine doubling if it isn’t settled within 14 days — something oddly akin to the concept of pleading guilty to get a lighter sentence — might have something to do with it.

Across the country, video surveillance — both at fixed points and in cars — is becoming de rigueur for parking control. Thirty-four councils used it last year, generating £3m in fines. Many more local authorities have gone high-tech this year. In Cheshire, they’re now being used to clamp down on double-parking at the school gate. As of January, Bolton council will be armed with a Smart Car sporting a 3.6m-high CCTV mast. In Enfield, north London, 40% of parking tickets were issued via CCTV in the first 12 months of the programme. And in just one year, Camera No 225 on Grant Road, next to Clapham Junction railway station, issued more than 6,000 tickets, earning £300,000 for Wandsworth council. As of this month, Bromley council has even started strapping head-cams to its wardens. Awesome.

For those kids who didn’t make it through the X Factor auditions, might I recommend the all-new BTec in CCTV Traffic Enforcement? You’ll be taught “within the current legal framework and gain the confidence to handle breaches of regulations correctly and effectively”. Forget the three Rs. In these times of economic uncertainty, these are the future-proof skills you need. It wasn’t always like this. There used to be traffic wardens, the old sort, in black-and-yellow uniforms. The Yellow Peril. They started patrolling Britain’s streets in September 1960, not just to “issue tickets for parking offences” but also to “offer advice to motorists”. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? “I wouldn’t park there, sonny. I’d have to give you a ticket. Oh, and your left rear’s a bit flat.” That sort of thing.

It simply isn’t fair if you’re getting a ticket from a camera you may not have even noticed. Where’s the discretion? Of course they were unpopular. Nobody’s ever going to love a traffic warden. In fact it only took three years before the first motorist had rigged up a vehicle to an electric cattle prod with the sole intent to electrocute one. Peter Hicks, a powerboat-racing farmer who used to fly his produce from Sussex to the wholesale market in Covent Garden by ex-American army helicopter, was just the sort of eccentric to take on these newfangled parking enforcers. In 1963, he booby-trapped his Land Rover with a 2,000-volt charge and spent many a happy lunch in the pub with his mates watching traffic wardens try to ticket it. “The attempts frequently ended in a huge bang and much merriment for those watching in the pub,” recalls his son. Hicks was eventually arrested and charged with assault, but after nine months the police dropped all charges.

While this doesn’t mean that in the 1960s it was legal to electrocute traffic wardens, prosecutors decided they wouldn’t be able to make an assault charge stick.
Hicks got off with a warning, but he didn’t know how good he had it back then. Things are quite different today. If you want a piece of legislation to blame, try the 1991 Road Traffic Act. It allowed local authorities to apply for Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) powers. They could create controlled parking zones (CPZs) within which PCNs (penalty charge notices) could be issued without recourse to law. Parking was no longer a police matter.

Instead of traffic wardens, this heralded the rise of the civil enforcement officer, the employment of whom was increasingly outsourced to private companies. By the end of the 1990s, all of London’s councils were using CPZs. Manchester adopted them in 1999, Liverpool in 2002. Then the smaller rural councils followed suit. Now, 272 of the 326 local authorities in England have decriminalised parking.

“In every local authority area where CPZs were introduced, there has been at least a five-fold increase in the number of tickets issued,” says the parking campaigner Neil Herron as we drive around Sunderland on a sunny Monday morning. “It’s because the councils can keep the money. Under the old system, you were fined by the court and the money went to the Treasury. Now, the councils get it all. Herron has spent most of the last decade fighting what he sees as the mission creep of parking regulation.

He points out all the city-centre shops that have closed in recent months. Of course, it’s because of the recession, but the tough parking controls have, he says, pushed several small businesses into the abyss. There’s a boarded-up newsagent, a boarded-up grocer’s, a boarded-up furniture store, all gone to the wall, says Herron, because parking in town is a nightmare.
“Civil servants are no longer civil, or servants. Instead, we’ve let these petty officials accrue absolute power. Local authority regimes have come to depend on the vast rewards from parking enforcement to support and underpin their profligacy as a stealth tax,” he says, as a warden swaggers past.

When I ask Herron what he thinks about the spread of CCTV enforcement, he shrugs and says it’s part of our gradual transition into a Big Brother state. The AA calls it “Orwellian”. Paul Watters, the AA’s head of roads and transport policy, says things have got out of hand. “It’s not a moving offence. It’s not a speeding offence. And yet the fine is the same. And it simply isn’t fair if you’re getting a ticket from a camera you may not have even noticed. Where’s the discretion?”
The people in charge of the future of parking over in Westminster are moving to the next stage which they’re calling, rather frighteningly, smart enforcement. The ticketing machines that wardens carry are being upgraded. From now on, wardens won’t just ticket. They’ll feed information back to a central “compliance” database to enable controllers to “rapidly deploy” staff to problem areas. It’s the parking equivalent of a Swat team. The new handheld computers could also, the council hopes, “limit the enforcement options available to the warden depending on the type of parking offence committed, the location and any previous tickets issued to the motorist”.

Because, when you ask them, they like to show their touchy-feely side. They’re all about compliance rather than profit. They want to educate rather than penalise. And they’re keen to change the reputation of the civil enforcement officer as a ticket-happy jobsworth. That won’t be easy, as a glance over recent headlines shows.

June 28, 2007: “Traffic warden battered unconscious at soldier’s wake”;

December 18, 2007: “Traffic warden homophobically attacked in Blackpool”;

September 4, 2009: “Driver who caused injuries to traffic warden jailed”;

February 11, 2010: “Traffic warden has cigarette stubbed in his face”;

June 14, 2010: “Traffic warden attacked with knife in Northamptonshire”;

September 10, 2010: “Driver attempts to run down traffic warden in Croydon”.

Cherelle, egged on by Matt Rudd, slaps a PCN on a Land Rover in Soho
Cherelle is a traffic warden in Soho. Unlike Donald, she is a real person on the real streets giving out actual tickets. I join her for her evening patrol one Tuesday to see how it’s done, the old-fashioned way. It’s a chance, the council tells me, to see that not all parking-enforcement people are evil, that they may be doing the job for good reasons. Don’t judge me for this, but Cherelle and I start out getting on famously. When we meet, I’m nervous. I am, after all, a parking-enforcement officer by association. It’s getting dark. I’m going to be run down, have a cigarette put out in my face, be forced to go to Croydon. Cherelle, on the other hand, isn’t nervous at all. She loves her job. She gave up a career in marketing to do it. And although many of her colleagues might be moving up into the cyber-headquarters, she wouldn’t want to follow. “I’m happy walking the streets,” she says. “I like talking to people. If you can’t talk to people, you can’t see the whole picture.” It’s all about people skills, you see. Not all parking enforcement needs to be evil.

We’ll see. We walk past a brand-new Land Rover on Soho Square. I think it’s been pretty well established that a 4x4 is not ideally suited to central London.
As if to prove my point, this monster is crossing a good 10 inches into the neighbouring parking space.
“Can we ticket that?” I ask Cherelle, hopefully.
“Noooo,” she replies, because she is a reasonable parking-enforcement officer on an official media tour.
“Oh, come on,” I say. “It’s taking up two spaces.” If ever there was a reasonable time and place for parking enforcement, it’s right here, right now, on this Land Rover’s ass.
Cherelle starts issuing the ticket. He looks casual. Cherelle looks calm. I try to blend into the adjacent sex shop (not easy)
Because she doesn’t yet have the new handheld computer that will be controlling her movements via a mastermind central database, she checks with head office by mobile phone. And they say, yes — Offence 26: incorrect parking, or parking not within a bay. PCN-time. Kerching.

As Cherelle fills out the £60 fine (rising to £120 after 14 days, of course), a low-slung Toyota comes around the corner and slows down.
“How do you sleep at night?” yells the driver before cruising off down Greek Street.
Five minutes later, we’re having a face-off with a double-parked minicab driver who’s refusing to move because he’s eating his chicken and rice.
Cherelle starts issuing the ticket. He looks casual. Cherelle looks calm. I try to blend into the adjacent sex shop (not easy, lots of dildos).
“You do realise I’m going to issue you for being here?” she reiterates and starts taking photographs. Finally, he drives off, head bowed, battle lost. It’s been 10 minutes of confrontation. I ask Cherelle if she thinks she’ll suffer post-traumatic stress when she retires. She says she never takes her work home with her.

Water off a traffic warden’s back. She adds that she gets a lot of men flirting with her. It’s the uniform, she says. Now, Cherelle is a perfectly attractive lady, but to any man out there who finds that particular uniform alluring: that is niche, my friend. Seriously niche. They don’t even do websites for that sort of thing.

It’s halfway through our evening together and we’re at the sharp end. A truck is offloading in a suspended bay. Cherelle has her grumpy face on. The driver is nowhere to be seen. The driver’s mate is trying to stall her by doing jokes, diversion techniques and panic, but nothing’s working. She’s going to give the truck a ticket. This seems totally unfair. They aren’t blocking the road. They aren’t causing any trouble. They’re just trying to get some supplies into a local theatre.

This time, I try to blend into a coffee shop as things turn unreasonable. With seconds to spare, the driver emerges from a shop, slams the back door shut and hops into the front seat. With a sarcastic, nay triumphant wave, he drives off. “That was quite harsh,” I tell Cherelle. She’s astonished. “I think I was nice,” she says. “He had committed an offence and he was continuing to commit an offence. I talked to him.”
I’m out with the nicest parking-enforcement officer in London, the one they send out with journalists. And she still couldn’t give the lorry bloke an extra couple of minutes to offload his van. But at least she talked to him. If CCTV had been involved, the driver would have got a ticket.
Then, Cherelle goes rogue. A Spanish couple start videoing us. Cherelle, who had been doing a moped for parking on a pavement, storms over and, after a long chat, confiscates the DVD from their camera. “I don’t want to be on the internet doing this. The council would be furious. You can’t record people without permission,” she says. This isn’t strictly true. You can record what you like in public. It’s only when you stick it on YouTube that things get tricky.

A few minutes later, the Spanish boyfriend returns looking sheepish. He says he’s just remembered there’s something on the tape he wouldn’t want anyone else to see. Could he snap it in half?
And me and his very grumpy Spanish girlfriend watch as Cherelle agrees to let him destroy what was undoubtedly his prized London amateur porn movie.

I feel like a coffee break, but Cherelle is busy clearing an entire street of minicabs. She asks a frightened Chinese family to move on but ignores one illegally parked car because it’s a chauffeur waiting for an actor to come out of a studio. “I don’t ticket cars waiting for actors,” she explains. “Actors get enough hassle.” This is all mind-boggling to me, the civilian.

I ask her if she ever feels guilty and she says she once ticketed a car that she subsequently realised was owned by a disabled person. Then she felt bad. But she’s nothing like the big issuers, as she calls them. “They’ll stick a ticket on first and ask questions later. I don’t do that.”
Cherelle is hardcore — you have to be to do her job — but rather charming. Nevertheless, after three hours in her wake, I need two G&Ts on my 20-minute train home to steady my nerves.
Between you and me, it’s easy to get off a CCTV ticket. All you need to do is say that you were helping a pregnant women cross the road Councils will tell you that 10 years from now they expect to be issuing far fewer tickets. The dream for them and their third-party contractors is to achieve 95% compliance.

Fewer tickets sounds good, but what it means for the motorist is that you will do as you’re told. The days of dodging the warden will be over.
Set foot in a bus lane, put your tickers on in a loading bay, pull over for a couple of minutes to buy the wonderful Sunday Times as a newspaper, and you will be zapped. Gizmos such as portable CCTV, handheld computers and all-seeing compliance databases will be one step ahead of you. Orwellian indeed. Are there ways to resist? We could revolt. As Neil Herron says, you get a £70 fine if you shoplift, and £60 if you stop on a single yellow at the wrong time in front of a CCTV camera.
“The motoring public of this country has been treated as a cash cow for too long,” he says. “This is not just about a parking ticket ... it’s about how we are governed and the contempt with which we are held.
We have reached the watershed and it is now the time for change.” We could stand up to the councils and their cyber-parking attack dogs. We could stop paying our council tax until the £60 fine is halved and the 14-day doubling threat is abandoned. We could lock up all the civil enforcers for being horrid. But that’s not terribly British. It’s more French — and look at the mess they’re in.

We could tell a lie. Back in that windowless Marylebone control room, Donald had whispered a bit of advice just before I’d said goodbye. “Between you and me,” he confided, looking around nervously, “it’s easy to get off a CCTV ticket. All you need to do is say that you were helping a pregnant women cross the road just around the corner. Or an old woman get up some stairs. That sort of thing. The council won’t bother contesting your appeal. It’s too much hassle.”
Or we could forget parking altogether and take the train.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adur council oversight prompts parking ticket refunds

Now this is how it should be ... a lesson to all councils out there. Well done Adur and this follows on from a similar example set by South Tyneside, Sheffield and Guildford.

BBC News Sussex
An oversight by a Sussex council has led to people being wrongfully fined for parking offences in Shoreham.
Adur District Council said a parking order for the town's Ropetackle car park was inadvertently not completed in October 2008.

The error means people who paid to park were wrongfully charged, and those who received parking tickets were wrongfully fined. Refunds for Penalty Charge Notices are being organised with immediate effect.Machines suspended
The council said people did not need to contact the local authority for parking fine refunds.
People can claim refunds for pay and display charges at the Adur Civic Centre cash office between 11 November and 10 December, providing they have kept their Ropetackle car parking ticket. Ticket machines are currently suspended at the car park until a new order is in place, the council added. A 21-day consultation will run until 3 December, and the new order should come into force in early January.

Response from Adur Council ... an example to all

From: Ian Lowrie Sent: 10 November 2010 15:43
To: Neil Herron
Subject
RE: Adur Council restitution ... Clarification sought

Dear Mr Herron,
I am sure you will be pleased to know that I can confirm that we are contacting direct those people who received fines incorrectly. Whilst we did make the mistake that created the situation, the open admission of such an error is by far the best way to handle it in my experience. Then we can move on more rapidly to the positive actions we prefer to be associated with.
So it does appear that your email ends up as a compliment, though I regret your implicit comment that you find this exceptional or surprising. We always try to be open and straightforward whenever we can, as do most of the councils I know.
Best wishes
Ian Lowrie

Ian Lowrie - Chief Executive Chief Executive's Office, Adur District Council and Worthing Borough CouncilLocation: Town Hall, Chapel Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 1HAInternal: 1001 External: 01903 221001 E-mail: ian.lowrie@worthing.gov.uk

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adur Council restitution ... Clarification sought

Mr Ian Lowrie
Chief Executive, Adur and Worthing Borough Councils
Adur District Council
Civic Centre, Ham Road
Shoreham-by-Sea
West Sussex, BN43 6PR
(01273) 263000


Dear Sir,

Un-completed traffic order for Ropetackle Car Park

I write in response to a BBC news report that Adur Council has suspended parking charges and parking contravention enforcement in consequence of some fatal omission in the traffic order that was intended to authorise the operation of this car park.
I see it also reported that "people do not need to contact the local authority for parking fine refunds".
I am accordingly writing to ask your clarification of this statement which I take to mean that Adur Council will be proactively identifying those who have paid penalty charges, for the purpose of refunding the penalty charges that were paid.

If this is the case then I compliment you and your officers for acting untypically in a correct, honest and exemplary manner that is commendably in contrast with many bad examples of what passes for lawful parking enforcement in this country.

I sincerely hope that you will be able to confirm that my understanding of the situation is correct.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Herron

Monday, November 15, 2010

BMF: Bike Parking - BMF Appeals for Appeal Funds

As the momentum grows and councils acrosss the country look to raise parking fines to London levels it is time for a full and frank debate on what the purpose of 'parking' enforcement is all about and where the role of traffic managament comes into the equation.

By Polotics.co.uk
Thursday, 11, Nov 2010

The British Motorcyclists Federation is calling on all UK motorcyclists, no matter where they may live, to support the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign (NTBPT) against Westminster's on-street parking charges for motorcycles.

A strong supporter of the NTBPT campaign to overturn the parking charges imposed on motorcyclists by Westminster City Council, the bmf say that with a ruling last week that the High Court may have got it wrong in judging that the charges were legal, and with what was said to be 'a good prospect of success at the re-trial', now is the time to really get behind the campaign.

But with the Court of Appeal Hearing listed for mid-March, there is a desperate need for legal funding. The fund has already passed the £5,000 mark, but at least £20,000 will be required for the appeal case to be properly presented. Motorcyclists donating* the cost of a couple of gallons of petrol could make all the difference say the bmf.

The bmf's Government Relations Executive Chris Hodder, said: "Make no mistake about it, this is not just a London issue, the High Court ruling that Westminster's parking charges for motorcycles are legal could well signal the end of free parking for motorcyclists across the UK. That's why this case is important, that's why this funding is important, and without it we cannot succeed."

In order to maintain the protest's high profile, the latest in a series of protest rides is to be held on Sunday 5th December around London's North and South circular routes. To be known as the 'Ace to Ace - the North & South Circular Run', the fund-raising ride leaves the world famous Ace Café, North Circular, Stonebridge, at 10.30hrs and returns at around 16.00hrs.
Although all riders are welcome to join the protest, it is also hoped that whether they attend or not, motorcyclists can donate £10 each to the legal challenge fund.

Fund donations should be made to: 'NTBPT' SORT CODE: 40-02-35, A/C 11411047.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Parking fines could be the highest in UK under new plans by county council

This is where the 'kite-flying' began.

The Lincolnshire Echo
26th October 2010




Motorists could soon be fined £80 for parking misdemeanours under new proposals by Lincolnshire County Council.


Motorists caught parking illegally in Lincolnshire could soon be paying the highest fines in the UK under new proposals.

Lincolnshire County Council is to seek advice from the Deparment for Transport (DfT) on whether it can charge offenders £80 for parking misdemeanours.
The Conservative-controlled authority believes it would be the first in the UK to go above the current Government guidelines of £70.

County council officers are developing plans to take control of parking enforcement from Lincolnshire Police and say this penalty increase would save taxpayers at least £250,000 over the next five years.
Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond would need to give special authorisation if a formal application was submitted. But motoring group the AA believes hiking up fines to raise revenue for the council would be illegal.

County council divisional highways manager Brian Thompson said: "The Government has previously indicated that Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) should bot be financially detrimental to local authorities.
"As it stands, the scheme would currently result in a significant deficit for Lincolnshire.
"For this reason, we are planning to approach the Department for Transport to explore the possibility of a rise in the penalty to mitigate the costs entailed."
County council estimates suggest the cost of implementing CPE would be almost £1.5 million over a five-year period if it was to run it using its own staff.
Using an external company would cost £743,000 during the same time frame.

An application for CPE is expected to be submitted by the county council to the DfT by February next year.
AA head of public affairs and parking spokesman, Paul Watters, said applying to raise the maximum parking charge to raise cash was "against the law".

Mr Watters said: "Councils are not allowed to use penalty levels as a revenue-raising exercise.
"It must only be to deter drivers. The council is naive it it thinks it can set penalty levels to raise revenue."
Discussing the issue at yesterday's county council highways, transport and technology scrutiny committee, councillor gave a mixed reception to increasing the fine.
Mr Thompson said it would have a "significant effect" on finances.
He addes: "But it would make Lincolnshire different."
Conservative Councillor David Brailsford said: "I am going to suggest we don't go out on a limb. I know there are financial implications. but to charge higher in Lincolnshire than anywhere else would be extremely unpopular."

Independent Councillor Ray Newell said: "What is the argument against getting more money in from someone that is disobeying the instructions? This will either sink or swim. In the financial climate by putting this figure up it's more likely we will be swimming than losing."
But Lincoln Birchwood Tory Councillor Eddie Strengiel said the current financial climate provided its own pressures.

He said: " The current financial situation is a little bit sensitive."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Parking tribunal Chief tells councils to show common sense

Perhaps the motoring public would have more faith in the system if decisions by the TPT were consistent ... and applied the law in relation to signing. We have seen many instances where they chant the mantra 'no reasonable person could have been misled' which is at odds with regard to the fact that signing must comply with the law. PATAS on the other hand is far more consistent in its approach. However, new developments on a number of fronts will shake this 'industry' from top to bottom ... and the recent arrest and pending trial of a council officer for misconduct in public office will cause a great deal of consternation as whistleblowers queue up to ensure that they are not tarred with the same brush.

10 Oct 2010
Caroline Sheppard, chief adjudicator of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, accused some local authorities of operating a "zero tolerance" approach to minor infringements.

She suggested that motorists who are given parking tickets for petty breaches of the rules should be let off if they appeal against the penalties. Mrs Sheppard complained that motorists were being punished for such offences as leaving one wheel over the white line of a car park bay, or failing to display their pay-and-display ticket correctly.

In such cases, drivers whose penalties were upheld on appeal to town halls have subsequently had them overturned by the tribunal.
Last year the tribunal received more than 12,000 applications to overturn tickets. In more than 60 per cent of cases it ruled in favour of the motorist.

The intervention by the chief adjudicator comes after The Sunday Telegraph's Campaign for Fair Parking highlighted cases where councils have carried on issuing tickets in areas where they knew the signs were illegal. Mrs Sheppard accused councils of failing to exercise their discretion when penalties were challenged, and called for "an outbreak of common sense" over trivial cases.
She urged motorists to appeal against penalties if they think they have been dealt with unfairly or illegally.
She said: "Motorists must appeal if they have any doubts over penalty charges. People want to explain but we only see what comes before us, so let us look at it."

The chief adjudicator said she was concerned that too many councils were failing in their statutory duty to give proper consideration to representations made by motorists contesting penalties, or to evidence offered in mitigation.

She said that motorists' letters of explanation to town halls were often dismissed with a standard response letter of one or two lines – a practice which suggests that their arguments "had not been considered properly or fairly".
Many councils were "unwilling or unable to consider challenges based on mitigating circumstances", Mrs Sheppard said.

Mitigation pleas are common in cases where a ticket had been issued because of a failure to display a permit, disabled parking badge or pay-and-display ticket.
Many councils had taken the "extraordinary" view that it was somehow "fairer" to reject all representations, she said.

Adjudicators had seen this explained in letters of rejection in which council officials said it would be "unfair" on people who had paid a penalty charge if those who made representations were "let off".

Mrs Sheppard, a barrister, also criticised the rising number of appeals that councils failed to contest at the tribunal, saying: "I don't understand why local authorities reject drivers' representations and then go no further."

The tribunal, which covers all of England and Wales except Greater London, considers cases where motorists have received a parking ticket then appealed to the town hall, which has upheld the decision.

It received 12,423 submissions last year, an increase of 11 per cent on the previous year's figure.Of cases decided by the tribunal, 34 per cent were won by the motorist because the council did not contest the case and a further 28 per cent were decided in favour of the motorist after the adjudicator considered and rejected the council's arguments, meaning that 62 per cent of all appeals were successful.

In nine out of the past 10 years, the proportion of successful appeals has been over 60 per cent.
Last year in 28 areas more than half of all appeals went uncontested by the local authorities concerned.

Areas with the highest proportion of tickets overturned at the tribunal in 2008/9, the most recent figures available, included the Medway towns in Kent, where 360 motorists appealed to the tribunal and 91% were successful, and Slough, where 246 appealed and 84% were successful.
The chief adjudicator declined to comment on councils which instructed enforcement officers to issue tickets despite having being warned that their regulations or signposts were legally flawed.
But she said it was "regrettable" that the tribunal was still being asked to determine appeals against penalties issued on streets where road signs were misleading and confusing.

In some cases, the tribunal has told councils to ensure that their parking officials receive guidance from their legal teams.

Parking tickets can only be issued when a motorist has broken a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), or bylaw, that has been made correctly by the local authority.
Mrs Sheppard said that adjudicators were "bewildered" by some TROs, and called for greater clarity so that parking signs were clear and unambiguous.
The most common appeals were over pay and display tickets, "signs and lines", vehicle ownership, loading and unloading, penalty charge notices not issued or not on the vehicle, residents and visitors permits, and disabled bays and badges.

Most (57 per cent) of appeals are dealt with by post, 35 per cent by personal hearing and 8 per cent by the recently introduced telephone conference, the latter up from 12 in 2008 to 167 last year.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Yellow box camera raises £1 million a year

If so many motorists are committing contraventions then the traffic and highways engineers have failed ... from a traffic management perspective. If it is about raising revenue then they have been hugely successful.

The Telegraph
By Melissa Kite, Deputy Political Editor
17 Oct 2010
It has been called the "money box" - a traffic camera at a yellow box junction in Battersea, south London is raising a million pounds a year in fines levied on hapless motorists.
When the Sunday Telegraph monitored the junction, it found that every single car that went through was unable to exit the box properly, because of the congestion ahead.



Drivers claim they cannot avoid stopping inside the box because of severe congestion in the area caused by ongoing engineering works.
Campaigners say it is part of a growing trend of motoring fines being used by authorities as stealth taxes.

Up to 2,000 drivers a month are being fined for becoming stuck in the junction on Battersea Bridge Road, a main route from the south into the centre of London. The road has been the scene of major hold ups since a main arterial route was closed in February, making it difficult for cars to avoid stopping at the junction.

When The Sunday Telegraph monitored the junction, it found that every single car that went through was unable to exit the box properly, because of the congestion ahead.
A camera erected above the traffic lights films motorists as they pass through. Anyone who stops for longer than five seconds in the box is issued with a fine of £60, which can double if not paid immediately.

In response to a series of Freedom of Information requests, Transport for London said that £520,000 has been raised by the camera in the six months from January to July, with 10,087 motorists issued with tickets.

The figures show clearly that the number of penalties handed out doubled in February, at exactly the same time that the adjacent Albert Bridge was closed and traffic redirected over Battersea Bridge.

While only 640 people were caught in the box junction in January, that monthly total had more than trebled to 2,153 by March.
One motorist who was caught by the camera appealed her fine and last week an adjudicator at a parking appeals hearing upheld her complaint.

Elizabeth Lord won on the grounds that she could not have avoided stopping in the box as the exit was clear when she drove into it but became blocked by pedestrians by the time she was part way across.
She said she was no longer prepared to pay unfair motoring fines since being made redundant in the recession. And she urged other motorists to also appeal.

"I'm afraid I've reached the stage where I'm not prepared to take this lying down any more," she said.
"It's dreadful. I think people ought to fight these fines. I would suggest to anybody, don't take it lying down.
"Motorists are an easy target and most people are too busy to fight. But people haven't got so much money now, money is tight and we don't have £60 to chuck at something ridiculous like this."

A spokesman for Transport for London said: "We enforce traffic regulations to keep London's red route (major roads) network moving safely for the benfit of all road users.
"Our traffic enforcement strategy is aimed at keeping the red route moving - it is not about raising revenue.
"If anyone believes they have been issued with a Penalty Charge Notice unfairly or if there are mitigating circumstances they can appeal to TfL or to the independent Parking and Traffic Appeals Service."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Authorities Bill may give London councils new powers

BBC News London
13th October 2010

A bill that will give local authorities in London a range of new powers is a step closer to becoming law after clearing its first Commons hurdle.
The London Local Authorities Bill would help councils issue fines to the public and clamp down on rogue traders.
Unusually, it was introduced in the House of Lords, and has already passed all its stages in the Upper Chamber.

Personal liberty campaigners said the bill was a move into 'dangerous waters'.
But all major parties backed the legislation, which was given a second reading by 293 votes to 21.
The legislation was backed despite one Conservative minister voicing concerns over it.
The legislation would:

  • Require people issued with penalty charge notices - for example over littering or parking - to provide their name and address to council officers


  • Allow councils to recover the cost of street cleaning from polluting traders


  • Require fast food sellers to display their hygiene rating and allow councils to crack down on unlicensed car dealers

Conservative MP Mike Freer said: "Many of us in this house would like to turn back the clock to a gentler age, but sadly we do live in an irresponsible society where many individuals cause problems for residents.
"Many of us would prefer a reduction in regulation and a lessening of the intrusive nature of government - both national and local.
"However, we do have a responsibility to address the real issues facing Londoners."

Conservative Local Government Minister Bob Neill said some measures in the Bill needed closer examination.
He cautioned: "We have to be proportionate and avoid the proliferation of fines for what might be perceived as genuinely minor breaches and which might create in the public a sense of unfairness.

Shadow local government minister Chris Williamson (Labour) said: "This bill has already been agreed by all 33 of the London local authorities.
"London councils are controlled by all three of the main political parties.
"On this bill they speak with one voice."

Neil Herron, who became known as the "metric martyr" after defying EU regulations on selling produce under the imperial weight system, criticised the Bill.
He said: "We are entering into dangerous waters when we are giving council officers these powers. "We need to go back to the fundamental principle that you can only be fined in a court of law.
"They will be fining us for standing on the cracks in the pavement next."

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Three yellow lines on the road that mean nothing

Just to underline the fact in yellow!

This is Exeter
published 04.10.10
PUZZLED: Businessman Brian Burnett with the triple yellow lines

Businessman Brian Burnett is the latest victim to emerge from what has been dubbed "the great parking scandal" after he was booked while parked on a triple yellow line.

The owner of Repaircare Electrical Services parked a van outside his business in Ladysmith Road, Exeter, to load some equipment but was given a penalty charge notice by civil enforcement officers
Mr Burnett asked the city council to reconsider due to the confused nature of the markings but was told "the intention" of them was clear so his ticket would not be cancelled
But he has now discovered that any variation on a recognised road sign can only be adopted with permission from the Secretary of State

His case has now been taken up and highlighted by city councillor and former police officer Percy Prowse.
It is the latest embarrassment for the council following the revalations in the Echo last week that tickets were being issued in areas that the council was told were unlawful three years ago.
Three former traffic wardens are expected to hear this week whether they have been successful in their tribunal claim for constructive dismissal .

They have turned whistleblowers and accompanied the Echo on a tour of the city centre to show where they were told to issue tickets despite doubts over the lawfulness of the signs and regulations

Mr Burnett said he felt furious after discovering his ticket had been issued unlawful and said: " I left the van outside on what is clearly a triple yellow line while we were about to load
"It took longer than we thought it would to load and in the meantime we were given a ticket.

"I appealed against it as I thought it was unfair but lost . After that I did speak to Percy and he is still challenging it on my behalf

"I have since discovered it is totally unlawful to give tickets when the road markings are not as they should be and I am really angry I have been penalised in this way

"Nothing has changed on the road marking but I am not sure who has been given a ticket there"

Mr Prowse said he had recently written to the county council's solicitor to ask what a triple yellow line meant and he was told it meant "absolutely nothing". He said: " A triple yellow line means nothing so they should never have issued a ticket in the first place.
The council wrote back to him to say 'the intention' of the lines was clear.
"To make variations from road signs in law the council needs permission from the Secretary of State. The law also states you cannot have a variant on yellow lines and a triple yellow does not exist For this reason it is totally unlawful."

Exeter City Council carries out the enforcement of on-street parking in the city on behalf of Devon County Council
A spokesman for the county council said: "The city council is instructed to enforce where the intent of the signs and lines clearly communicate the relevant restrictions
"Minor deviations in markings from the requirements of the regulations will not automatically invalidate a Penalty Charge Notice. If any individual believe they have been issued a Penalty Charge Notice incorrectly they hould appeal as directed on the notice."

Monday, October 04, 2010

Millions of parking tickets given out 'illegally', expert reveals

Telegraph
By David Harrison
02nd October 2010
Millions of parking tickets are being issued illegally all over the UK, according to a leading expert.
Chris Leithead, ex-head of the Metropolitan police traffic division and a traffic consultant who advises councils on parking, said local authorities were issuing parking tickets in areas where signs were unlawful.

He said he had witnessed this in London, Birmingham, Manchester Edinburgh and Bath and was "absolutely certain" it was happening in many other areas.
Defective signs he has identified include:

  • Signs more than 60 metres apart, or simply missing

  • Road markings, such as parking bays and yellow lines, so worn they can barely be made out3

  • Double yellow lines with no T-bar to show the end of the no parking restriction.

  • "Swivel" signs that change restrictions without warning.

  • Signs that are unclear or ambiguous.

Mr Leithead, who has advised councils all over the UK on the introduction of decriminalised parking enforcement, said: "We are talking about millions of tickets that have been issued unlawfully.
"Councils are taking advantage of the fact that most motorists do not know the signs are unlawful and that, even if they have concerns, they will just pay up to get it out of the way.
"But drivers should not be given those tickets in the first place."

His comments followed The Sunday Telegraph's disclosure last week (here) - confirmed in leaked emails - that Exeter city council had told traffic attendants to keep on issuing tickets even after they had pointed out that parking signs and bays were unclear or wrong.
Council parking controls have to be enshrined in bylaws, called Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs). The signs and markings used to impose the restrictions have to be displayed and painted according to Department for Transport instructions before tickets can be issued, with only "minor deviations" allowed.


But Mr Leithead said there nobody checked whether councils were complying with the regulations - and many were flouting them openly as a way of raising revenue.
"This is not traffic management," he said. "If councils were serious about wanting traffic to flow more freely we would see attendant giving out tickets to cars blocking buses and other vehicles on main roads.
"But too many of them are busy dolling out tickets in quiet side streets where cars are not actually causing any problems and where signs are often unclear and unlawful."
A spokesman for the AA said: "When someone with Mr Leithead's inside knowledge and experience speaks out like this we should sit up and take notice.
"This confirms what we have long suspected - that councils are exploiting motorists to boost their coffers."

Through his local MP, Tony Lloyd, Mr Leithead has lodged a complaint with the parliamentary ombudsman, accusing the Secretary of State for Transport of maladministration for failing to require local authorities to carry out their legal duties.

He decided to complain after working as a consultant for Bath and North East Somerset council in 2008 and discovering many of its TROs and signs were unlawful.
Two TROs, for example, contained contradictory controls for the same road with one decreeing that there should be parking bays and another saying there should be no waiting allowed by any vehicles.
When he told the council that it should not issue parking tickets in these areas until the errors were rectified he says officials ignored his advice and the Department for Transport failed to take any action against them.

In March this year Richard Buckley, head of the Department for Transport's traffic management division, replying to a letter from Mr Leithead, said the department had no "formal role" to manage councils' parking controls performance or to investigate allegations made against them.
If officials received evidence of council failings they would "advise" the authority to stop issuing tickets but the local authority would decide whether to take any action, he said.
It was up to local communities, media and campaign groups to hold local authorities to high standards, using "civil society and local democracy," Mr Buckley added.

Mr Leithead said the department's response was "totally unacceptable" because "nobody is scrutinising councils' performance." He wants to see a national inspectorate set up to perform that role.
"The threat of the inspectorate would concentrate minds to make sure councils get it right in the first place," he said.
Mr Leithead,69, a former police superintendant with a total of 45 years experience as an officer and traffic consultant, said that, unlike police-trained wardens, council parking attendants were not trained to recognise incorrect signs.
"Their managers should ensure that enforcement officers receive proper training so they can identify illegal signs and know not to give out tickets," he said.
"But instead they are being ordered to hand out tickets anyway.
"The Sunday Telegraph "showed it was happening in Exeter, and I am absolutely certain that the problem is duplicated across other parts of the country. It's cynical, iniquitous and wrong."

Neil Herron, director of the Motorists Legal Challenge Fund, said: "As an influential police figure in the switching of traffic control powers to councils Mr Leithead is in a perfect position to see what is happening on the other side.
"What he is revealing is the deliberate abuse of council powers under the guise of traffic management. Many councils are out of control and beyond censure. A full investigation is needed to expose those councils that are breaking the law to impose a stealth tax."

A spokesman for Bath and North East Somerset council said: "We are undertaking a project to make Traffic Regulation Orders mor accessible anf understandable to the public as part of our commitment to ensuring compliane with relevant legislation.
"If the council did discover any uncertainty over the validity of a Traffic Regulation Order, enforcement would be suspended until the ambiguity is cleared up."

THE WRONG WINDOW
A motorist was issued with a £40 penalty charge notice because he stuck his pay-and-display ticket in a side window rather than the windscreen.
Peter Kirby, 78, had paid the right amount to park in Croydon, south London. He wrote to Croydon council, which waived the fine.
He said: "I don't believe the fine would have been enforceable in court as the ticket said 'Place on display in the windscreen' whereas the Penalty Charge Notice merely requires the ticket to be 'displayed clearly'."
A spokesman said: " The motorist provided evidence that on this occasion he had bought a valid pay and display ticket."

THE WRONG CAR PARK TICKET
A retired businessman was ordered to pay a £60 penalty for using a £6 day ticket, valid for long-stay car parks in Scaborough, North Yorkshire, in a car park which was for short-stay-only during the summer.
Clive Dixon, 62, from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, said there were no signs informing motorists that the car park was for short stays only.
He appealed but Scarborough council refused to back down until Mr Dixon threatened legal action and produced photographs from every angle, proving there were no signs.
Eventually officials apologised and said a mistake had been made.

THE PHANTOM TICKET
When Peter Cook popped into his local butchers to buy sausages, he left his car on double yellow lines for a few minutes. He came back to find a parking attendant starting to issue a ticket.
"We had a brief exchange and she was trying to hold me in a conversation. i got in my car and drove off," he said.
Weeks later he received a letter demanding £60 for the transgression on Chaucer Road, Gillingham.
Mr Cook, 52, a business consultant and author, told Medway council he had never received an initial ticket giving him the chance to pay at the discount rate of £30.
The council replied with a statement from the parking attendant: "Ticket handed to driver at 10.53am."
The motorist disputed the attensant's account. Eventually the council agreed to waive the fine, saying the attendant may have forgotten what had happened.

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