Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No excuses. No TRO then give back the money

Another blunder by another council. Traffic Regulation Orders are legal documents. If you don't have one or it's incorrect then you can't keep the money. Council cutbacks should come from culling the people paid handsomely from the public purse who have failed to deliver the most basic of legal requirements. No point politicians blaming the previous administration. The responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the council officers responsible.
No law ... no penalty. The District Auditor needs to be tasked with the investigation and the Local Government Ombudsman brought in to investigate the maladministration causing injustice to thousands.

Hyndburn parking tickets since 2008 'could be invalid'
Lancashire Telegraph
Tuesday 24th May 2011
Exclusive By Emma Cruces

EVERY parking ticket issued in an East Lancashire borough over the last three years could be invalid, it has emerged.

Hyndburn Council failed to update its bylaws in line with a new Traffic act in 2008.

Parking campaigners have described it as a ‘major blunder’ and believe it means thousands of tickets issued ‘could be overturned’.

Similar cases have seen the government agency, which would adjudicate on the matter, order that mass refunds occur.

It says ‘outdated terminology invalidates a penalty charge’.

However, the council is confident it will not have to return thousands of pounds in fines, claiming the use of incorrect terms ‘does not affect liability’.

Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones said if the fears proved correct it was the latest in a ‘long list of disasters’ his party’s new ruling group had inherited from the ousted Conservatives.

Town centre trader Chris Fisher said he discovered the council’s bylaw document was out of date after looking into a parking ticket he received this March.

Mr Fisher contacted Neil Herron, the founder of parking watchdog Parking Appeals.

Mr Herron has become a thorn in the side of councils across the country, helping drivers overturn tickets.

He urged motorists to appeal claiming the situation could see all tickets since 2008 overturned. He said: “It’s a major blunder.

“Hyndburn uses the wrong terminology, refers to the wrong legislation.

“They expect members of the public to obey signs to the letter and not be one minute late but can’t even get their own house in order.”

The government repealed the 1991 Road Traffic Act in March 2008, but gave councils two years notice to apply for new powers under the 2004 act.

Though Hyndburn tickets themselves quote the 2004 act, the council’s bylaw document still quotes the 1991 act.

A spokesperson said they believed this ‘does not affect liability’, adding: “We don’t accept their view of the law and have responded saying this.

“Mr Fisher is entitled to set out his case before a parking adjudicator however and they will make the decision.

“The council's view is that the penalty charge notice in question was correctly issued by a civil enforcement officer in accordance with requirements of the Traffic Management Act 2004.”

Hyndburn’s bylaw document is said to use outdated terminology such as ‘parking attendant’ instead of ‘civil enforcement officer’ and refer to the Road Traffic Act 1991 instead of the Road Traffic Act 2004, in key areas.

The fine amount in the council’s bylaw is also said to be set at £60 however the 2004 act quoted on on Mr Fisher’s ticket gives the amount as £40.

Mr Fisher, who owns, Blackburn Road, Accrington, said: “As a trader there is nowhere where you can park all day so you have to keep moving your car on from place to place.

“I was a bit late moving from a three hour spot on Blackburn Road one day and this is the result.

“I just find it frustrating you get no thanks or help as a trader in the town centre and are expected to do extra work just to get yourself from A to B.

“After all that it turns out the council hasn’t done its own homework.”

Earlier this month Labour seized control of Hyndburn Council from the Conservative group.

Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones said: “If this is proved accurate, it can be added to a long list of disasters at the hands of the council.”

Labour leader Miles Parkinson, who takes official control of the council tonight, said: “It sounds as if it warrants a serious investigation and could have a serious effect on the borough.”

But outgoing Conservative leader Peter Britcliffe he had been assured by the legal department the parking tickets were still valid.

He added: “However, it is for the adjudicator to decide. ”

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