Monday, May 17, 2010

Motorists Legal Challenge Fund Newsletter

Our Big Day In Court

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week (18th & 19th May) sees Neil Herron's case in the High Court. It has taken almost 3 years to get this case before a Judge, but we are finally there. What is at stake is the correct and legal definition of a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ).
CPZs were originally designed for small areas of 12 streets or less, but local councils have abused them so much that they can now cover areas of 12 square miles or more, encompassing hundreds of streets.

The entry signs in some places have become so large and complicated that they are impossible to read - let alone remember - when travelling past at 30 mph (or even 20 mph). As a result, motorists are often not adequately informed about when and where they can lawfully park, which increases the risk of their receiving a parking ticket.

The Department for Transport has been concerned for some time about the misuse of CPZs by some councils, and the difficulties and unfairness it causes for drivers. Indeed, they even researched and fully understood the issues way back in 2005. More recently, the DfT along with the Institute of Highways Engineers have effectively declared CPZs as "not fit for purpose", but nothing has been done to clarify the situation.

Neil's case could do just that.

There is nothing private or secret about the courts, they are open to the public. If you want to witness the law in action and see how your donation money is being spent to try to bring justice for the motoring public, then turn up at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Are We Doing the Right Thing?
Why should it have become necessary for a single member of the public to bring a case at great financial cost against a local authority? After all, we have just been through an election to choose national and local representatives who are supposed to be responsible for holding civil servants and council officers to account.

The present system is not perfect and, if we have reason to believe that local authorities are breaking the law, as a last resort they can be held to account through the process of judicial review in the High Court as Neil is now doing.
Support for this process comes from a group of academics at the University of Essex who recently wrote a report entitled "Judicial Review Litigation as an Incentive to Change in Local Authority Public Services in England & Wales". (click here)

Don't be put off by the long title; it confirms that we are doing the right thing in supporting Neil’s case in the High Court, and their "research indicated that judicial review may actually help authorities to improve." They also make the point that "there are strong associations between the values of public service and fidelity to law, and both are intimately connected with the responsibility of local authorities to serve the public interest."
Put into our context, if local authorities fail to comply with national law, as too many of them don’t, then what possible right do they have to punish motorists who do not comply with their own local law?

For more information and to support the Motorists Legal Challenge click here

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