Thursday, February 11, 2010

Diplomatic Row continues

Diplomatic parking bays 'unlawful since the 80s'
Islington Gazette
11 February 2010

ALL tickets handed out in two "unlawful" parking bays could have to be repaid by Islington Council.The two bays - in White Lion Street, Angel, and Cowper Street, Finsbury - are reserved for diplomats. But Islington Council failed to get the proper permission from the secretary of state for transport before installing the road signs - which means every parking fine and car-towing carried out is unenforceable. The White Lion Street bay is reserved for the Eritrean Embassy, while the Cowper Street one is used by the International Mobile Satellite Organisation, which has full diplomatic status under an agreement with the Government.

Islington Council insists the revelation about the bays will have little effect, as no tickets were issued in either bay last year, but anyone issued with tickets in the bays since as far back as the 1980s could have a case for their money back.Across the capital, there are 346 diplomatic bays in total, and Westminster, Camden, and Kensington and Chelsea councils are all in the same boat.

Neil Herron, of the Motorists' Legal Challenge group, said: "The diplomatic bays issue will have huge implications. This is 22 years of unlawful unlawfully derived income. "If councils paid more attention to getting everything right they would not now be in the position of having to refund millions. This is what happens when corners are cut in the pursuit of a cash cow. "Fairness and justice is a two-way street and councils now have a duty to refund those fined unlawfully."

An Islington Council spokesman said: "There are two diplomatic bays in Islington and no Penalty Charge Notices for either of them were issued in 2009. We were unaware of an issue regarding special authorisation for signage in these bays and are looking into this.

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