Thursday, December 21, 2006

Burns Night in Sunderland ... Parking Cover Up continues

Now if you remember NPAS Adjudicator, Andrew Keenan stating 'all the lines and signs in Sunderland are correct'... and recently the Council Leader and Chief Executive stated that 'the regime is legally robust and enforceable' ...

Well guys ... looks like another attempt at a cover-up has backfired.

While sitting in the bath singing yuletide songs at 9am I received a telephone call.

"Neil, I can smell burning. You had better come into town."

Five minutes later I pulled up on one of their newly marked yellow lines...running through the loading / parking space. Now these locations had recently featured in a BBC Look North piece in which the Council denied that there was anything wrong with the signing in the Park Lane Village CPZ.

This was despite the fact that the DfT had only given them authorisation for the 'combination loading / parking' signs providing that they did not use the loading only legend on the highway.

Today the workers were burning off the Loading Only legends from the highway which had made the bays illegal. As the requirements for the CPZ are that ALL the streets are covered with lawful restrictions the CPZ falls ... and along with it goes every ticket issued in Park Lane Village CPZ.

I am sure that there will be an announcement offering refunds in time for Christmas.

Tragedy as TalkSPORT host Mike Dickin dies in car crash

The following report is a report of the tragic death and career of TalkSPORT radio host Mike Dickin.
Barrie Segal and I became a regular fixture of the 'angriest man in Britain's' phone-in on TalkSPORT. Mike certainly lived up to his reputation when callers rang up to highlight their personal parking injustices. He did not hold back when he aired his thoughts on the illegality of decriminalised parking and the behaviour of those involved.
He will be a very big miss.
Our deepest sympathies go out to Mike's family.

Radio host Dickin dies in crash

Dickin had been with Talksport for ten years.

Talksport phone-in host Mike Dickin, known to listeners as "The King", has died in a road accident in Cornwall.The presenter, who was in his 60s, was involved in a six car pile-up on the A30 on Monday. He was airlifted to hospital but was pronounced dead.

Dickin started his career at BBC Radio Oxford in the 1970s, where he was the first presenter on the air.

He also broadcast on Radio 4 and LBC, and won an award for his coverage of the Lockerbie disaster in 1988.

The presenter, who broadcast from his home studio in Bodmin Moor, was known for his passionate, outspoken views.

Listeners dubbed him Britain's angriest man, but he was also known as "The King" because of his supposed resemblance to Henry VIII.

Dickin hosted weekend overnight phone-ins on Talksport and was last heard on the station last weekend.

Colleague James Whale paid tribute to the broadcaster, calling him "the original grumpy old man".
"Radio will never be the same again," continued the presenter, who will pay tribute to Dickin in his programme on Thursday night
Mike Dickin was a broadcasting legend and will be sorely missed by the millions of listeners he has informed, entertained and argued with over his 36-year career.

Now here is your chance to remember Mike in this Book of Condolences, which will be passed on to his wife, Karen, and family. Feel free to share your memories, anecdotes or just your simple condolences to this great broadcaster

Mike Dickin (1935 – December 18, 2006), was a late-night host on the British radio station talkSPORT. Dickin used to present the 1am to 6am slot at weekends on Talk Radio. He returned filling in for James Whale during his battle with kidney cancer. He was given the morning show slot soon afterwards. He was affectionately known as the King by his fans due to his resemblance to King Henry VIII.

Starting out as a musician in the 1960s, Dickin was a bass player and singer who found he preferred playing records to making them when he joined the BBC in 1970 as the first presenter on air at Radio Oxford. In 1977, Dickin moved to Australia where he worked for Sydney's biggest radio station, 2UE. Upon returning to the UK in the late seventies he spent 17 years working for BBC Radio 4, LBC and Capital Radio. He started at Talksport (then Talk Radio UK) in 1996.

Dickin was famous for his strongly held views. His passion led to him being labelled “Britain’s angriest man” by talkSPORT listeners. Typical discussions on his show included crime, cars, trains, taxis, the problems of young people, the downfall of Britain, the incompetence of people in the service industry, parking tickets and call centres. He was also known for his catchphrases, such as “My health is not in question,” when asked how he is. Another catchphrase is “If you were constipated, you’d be speechless.”

Mike Dickin was killed in a car crash on the A30 near his home in Cornwall, on December 18th 2006.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bill's final vote is to quit politics

Sunderland Echo

SUNDERLAND MP Bill Etherington says he's quitting politics because "you're at everybody's beck and call and expected to vote at all hours of life".

But a review of his work in Parliament over the last 12 months revealed the Sunderland North MP has voted in just half of all House of Commons sessions – well below average.
The 65-year-old was blasted by his political opponents in the run-up to the 2005 General Election for not giving the people of Sunderland value for money and not speaking in Parliament enough.
Today Mr Etherington revealed he wanted to stand down before last year's election, but was persuaded to stay on.
Now, after spending 14 years representing the city in the Commons, he will call time on his career at the next General Election because his constituency is being wiped off the political map, after a series of boundary changes.
He said: "My constituency wouldn't exist after the next election. The new Sunderland Central will consist of mostly my patch, but also wards from other constituencies.
"I was going to stand down at the last election, but I was persuaded against my will. I felt I owed it to my constituents to take on one last request."
Neil Herron, who stood against Mr Etherington in the last election, said: "We need someone who can bang the drum for Sunderland. Sunderland needs a loud voice in the region and in Westminster.
"With Mr Etherington stepping down it's the ideal opportunity for someone to come along with Sunderland's interests at heart rather than just that of a political party."
Mr Etherington described his time in Parliament as being a "bit of a mixed bag".
He said: "It's not a very structural form of life being an MP. You're at everybody's beck and call and are expected to vote at all hours of life.
"Other than that, what's nice about the job, which doesn't really happen too often, is when people come and see you and I do what I can, but it's not always the way and sometimes I can't help them, but when I do and I make life better for a few of them, it's quite rewarding."
And after his resignation from the post, the pit worker of 21 years has plans to spend time with his family and at the house he bought in Scotland two years ago.
He added: "I think if you left school when you're 16 and work for the next 43 to 44 years, you can say you've done your bit and you're entitled to be put out to graze."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Had a Parking Ticket in Liverpool?

Liverpool City Council changed the wording on their PCNs on 15th August 2006.

Head of Parking Services, Roy Tunstall was on BBC Radio Liverpool drivetime programme last night with me. He is adamant that the Council can still pursue non-compliant PCNs issued BEFORE August 2nd 2006 because that was the date of the Moses v Barnet case and before that 'they had not been aware.'
He also stated that the decision only applied to Barnet ... and not Liverpool and it was up to each and every motorist to appeal their ticket individually!

I have threatened a Police and District Auditor complaint should they continue to pursue PCNs that they know to be non-compliant.

Meanwhile, anyone who has had a parking ticket in Liverpool and wishes to challenge it on the point that the PCN is unlawful simply e-mail me at

The story in the Liverpool Daily Post can be read here

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Subject: Radio 4 Today Programme and Daniel Hannan...Repeal the 1972 European Communities Act

In case you missed it, here is the link to "Listen Again" on the TODAY prog and Daniel Hannan's call to repeal the ECA 1972. If you haven't already logged your suggestion to repeal this act, please do so asap on the same site.

Click here to listen

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Parking fiasco

If you remember Sunderland Council's legal department told NCP to change the wording of the PCNs 'without delay' on 16th June 2005. They weren't changed until 30th November 2005. NCP continued to issue PCNs they knew to be unlawful and Sunderland continued to process unlawful PCNs AND bank the money.
Over 12,000 people were issued with unlawful PCNs between May when Sunderland were informed via an NPAS Circular (BC 188 MacArthur v Bury) yet Sunderland say that they cannot have their money back.

However, Eric Brittain who raised the complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman is about to receive an apology from the Council's Chief Executive, a refund and an offer of £50 compensation.

It may well be the precedent that costs many a council many a million.

Sunderland Echo
Letters Page
Monday, December 11, 2006

In all the recent publicity about the parking fiasco in Sunderland it seems to me, although NCP were partners, they have been made the scapegoat for Sunderland Parking Services' failures in some areas to comply with the Road Traffic Act.
Surely, it is an essential fact that those who are empowered to administer the law do so in accordance with the Act, not to suit themselves.
For instance Sunderland Parking Services were instructed by the National Parking Adjudication Service (a legal department supported by most councils with a percentage of the fines imposed) on May 4th, 2005, that their Penalty Charge Notices could be challenged as they did not contain a date of issue on them in order to comply with the Road Traffic Act.
Despite receiving this warning Sunderland Parking Services continued to issue PCNs to motorists without this added detail until sometime I believe in January/ February 2006. Sunderland Parking Services were even instructed by their own City Solicitor on June 14, 2005 to add this detail without delay.
One dreads to think how many motorists received PCNs in Sunderland during that period which did not comply with the RTA and were therefore subject to appeal.

E Brittain
St George's Estate

Defeat for in-house parking

Sunderland Echo
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
By Marissa Carruthers

Handing parking powers back to Sunderland Council was compared to putting "King Herod in charge of a nursery" at a meeting last night.
Last month, Sunderland City Council unanimously backed a decision to seize back control of on-street parking after a shocking TV documentary.
The undercover Inside Out programme showed city parking attendants making racist remarks and mocking disabled drivers.
They were also heard claiming that they had "tortured" drivers on Villette Road, caused criminal damage to vehicles and accepted drinks in return for not issuing parking tickets.
Five employees were sacked after an investigation.
But some councillors slammed the decision to take parking enforcement back under council control, and yesterday Conservative Councillors Peter Wood, Paul Maddison and Independent Michael Tansey used the authority's calling-in powers to challenge the decision.
Coun Wood said: "We have had two special meetings relating to parking in a 12-month period. Questions have been raised about whether yellow lines are in the right place and whether notices have the right information on them.
"Those problems, in my view, are really the result of serious failings within the council's own directorate of development and regeneration yet the cabinet is seriously considering giving the directorate more responsibility for parking in the city.
"My suggestion is that giving more responsibility to the directorate is like putting King Herod in charge of a nursery."
He added: "If NCP is no longer appropriate to run on-street parking, why are they okay to retain off-street parking?"
He suggested the council should have handed on-street parking over to another organisation to "restore public confidence" in the system.
But the majority of members of the council's environmental and planning review committee backed the bid to take on on-street parking in spite of these fears.
Coun Les Scott said: "I think the decision by the cabinet to bring parking back in-house was measured, considered and it was the right thing to do."
He said he felt the public felt most "comfortable" with the council seizing control of on-street parking.
The council contracted out parking enforcement in the city to NCP in 2003 when the responsibility was taken from the police and given to the council

BBC Radio 4 Poll ... Your help is required

Simply click on the link below and vote:

Link to BBC Vote

The 1972 European Communities Act

...once struck down, will restore accountability to our own Parliament in Westminster. It is questionable whether there will be restoration of sanity but at least then we will be able to sack those who make our laws. Which political party would then ever dare introduce legislation which would have seen a greengrocer take a criminal conviction to his grave for selling a pound of bananas or make it a criminal offence after Janauary 1st 2010 to make any mention of imperial measures?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

NPAS Apologises over errors in Herron v Sunderland Case... Review Request to go ahead.

Now if you can remember the hearing ... 3rd October 2006 the day after the BBC expose on the Sunderland Parking regime ... Sunderland City Council brought in a QC to present their case. (If you are a Sunderland Council taxpayer you should ask how much this cost).

Once the decision was sent out on 2nd November I decided that because there were errors in fact, in law and also clerical and administrative errors then I would request a review of the decision ... and therefore, reserve comment until the adjudicator's clerical errors had been corrected the request for review had been accepted ... once I had received a correctly worded decision.

But Sunderland Council couldn't wait and the press office 'briefed' the press that Neil Herron had lost BUT they compounded the NPAS mistake by going live with it. I was then forced to defend my reputation by pointing out that not only were Sunderland mistaken but that the matter would be taken to review once I had received a correctly worded decision.

NCP continued to issue in the area where my appeal had been successful.

The Council are using the NPAS decision to claim that their regime 'is legally robust' and the signs and lines are correct.

A formal complaint will be made to the Council...they went live with a press release which was factually incorrect and this 'maladministration' has caused an injustice and they have also potentially prejudiced other appellants as the Council used this factually incorrect NPAS Judgment in their evidence bundles for cases which were heard before NPAS in November.

I now have 14 days to submit the evidence in the Request for a Review to NPAS that will highlight the flaws that the adjudicator dismissed, and will include evidence from the Government Office of the North East and the Department for Transport. Since the adjudicator rejected Captain Green's photographic evidence without having sight of it.
An exhaustive photographic compilation of illegal signs and lines has been prepared to submit with the request for the review.

The NPAS letter specifically states:
"The consolidated decision which I now enclose rectified the clerical errors in respect of PCNs SX12069459, SX04061790, SX02033207 (they had been 'dismissed' in the original decision when in fact they had been allowed). It also now incorporates the various schedules referred to in the decision. Please accept the apologies of the tribunal for the errors and omissions in the original decisions, which occurred when recording the adjudicator's decision in the tribunal's case management system, and the accompanying covering letters in cases SX05042B, SX05052F,and SX05053J which reflected errors in the original decisions."


Let's hope that the people who purport to be professional and independent do a little better this time...but remember that NPAS do get 55p from every PCN issued, and the adudicators are appointed by the Joint Committee which comprises of representatives from the participating local authorities, including Councillor Joseph Lawson ... Sunderland City Council's DPE Portfolio Holder. ;-)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sunderland Council warned over illegal bays

Council warned over loading bay sizes
Sunderland Echo
Tuesday 5 December 06

Officials have warned Sunderland Council chiefs their plans to create loading bays smaller than the legal limit could be seen as entrapment.
Sunderland City Council wanted to created the bays in Front Street, Concord, Washington, narrower than the legal width.
However, an official from the Department of Transport said: "Let's not forget there are elements of potential entrapment here - ie they almost entice lorries to use bays they cannot fit into, then they can fine them for not parking within the bay. Nice little earner."

In November Government Office North-East also told the Wearside council a loading bay, which had been placed in Holmside, would have to be extended to 2.7m.
It was 1.5m wide and then the authority extended it to 2m.
And. it also emerged other loading bays in the city were already well below the legal minimum width.
However, Ged Fitzgerald, Sunderland Council chief executive, said: "The council refutes any inference that there has been any entrapment in the context of decriminalised parking in the city of Sunderland."

The authority said it hadn't created the bay in Front Street, and it would comply with regulations.

The loading restrictions are being created in response to traders' concerns about parking.
There was a series of blunders in Holmside over signs, lines and traffic orders and the council was forced to repay thousands of pounds in wrongly collected fines.

However, the council insists overall its systems are legally sound.

If believe that you must also believe in fairies.

Want to see what the Government Office and the Department for Transport say about Holmeside click here

Sunderland parking shambles... crisis grows

The latest news featured on BBC's Look North last night with the Council quoted as saying that 'when we identify mistakes we put them right...'

Now let us examine this a bit further:

A mistake?
Sunderland Council told the DfT that everything had been done. All lines, signs and TROs.
We can accept an odd broken line, missing sign or the odd inconsistency in a Traffic Order BUT what we are witnessing here is a shambles on a scale that beggars belief.

Now we reveal that the Council asked for authorisation for specific signs in Park Lane Shopping Village Controlled Parking Zone ... to operate dual purpose bays ( loading and parking or loading / taxi bays).

They were allowed the authorisation BUT it came with certain conditions. One condition was that there must be no loading only legend on the highway.

Now if you check:
Derwent Street
Olive Street
Mary Street and
Park Lane
you will see that there is a legend on the highway, therefore invalidating the special authorisation.

There is no legal restriction so no contravention could occur.

Now go back to the statement ... 'when we identify mistakes we put them right...' the bit they have missed off is ... and everyone fined illegally at these locations will be entitled to their money back because if there was no legal bay then it was free parking. No-one had any authority to demand a £30 fine.

Now check the loading bays at these locations. Some are only 2m wide, some less.

In the backlanes they actually cross the pavements encouraging motorists to park illegally (ie. on the path) or park out of the bay causing an obstruction.:
Back Olive Street
Back Derwent Street (N and S)
Back Albion Place

The Council cannot do as it pleases with regard to signing.

It must do as the law requires. It has not done so at these and many other locations.

More will be revealed including what the Government Office of the North East and the Department for Transport told them... but here is a taster below...

The story on the TV last night mentioned the words 'entrapment' and 'a nice little earner.'
Not my words but the words of a Government official.

Sunderland has been using loading bays which do not conform to the minimum width requirements of 2.7m.

Have you been fined in one of these bays?

The Park Lane Village CPZ requires ALL the signs and lines to be correct before it can come into force ... this little case study above is just a fraction of the evidence that has been compiled so far ... and there is much, much more.

In the Newcastle Journal the Chief Executive stated that they became aware of the narrow bays in Holmeside in the 2006 review in January.



ENFORCEMENT HAD CONTINUED IN BAYS WHICH WERE ONLY 1.5M WIDE!!! (I know because I received a ticket, photographed it and then photographed the restrcition again after NCP had removed it after being instructed by the Council. The Council claimed it was because the signs had been stolen...but they were in both photographs! That weekend the bays were remarked).


If you have you been fined in Holmeside?

Check out this link here

Monday, December 04, 2006

Everyone must love the EU... says Tony Blair

The Mail on Sunday
Last updated at 21:22pm on 2nd December 2006

A multi-million pound propaganda war to force the British people to love the European Union and Brussels bureaucrats is to be launched by Tony Blair as part of his legacy as Prime Minister, it has been revealed.

Read the full article here

'Entrapment' fear over parking plan

Council scorns 'nice earner' claim
The Journal
Monday, December 4, 2006
By Ross Smith

A civil servant told council bosses their plans for loading bays could constitute "entrapment" because vehicles would be too wide to fit inside them.
The comment is the latest controversy to beset Sunderland Council's parking system.
The council wanted to create loading bays in Front Street in Concord, Washington, which were smaller than the legal width.
But a Department for Transport official warned them on November 6 this year: "Let's not forget there are elements of potential entrapment here - ie they almost entice lorries to use bays they cannot fit into, then they can fine them for not parking within the bay. Nice little earner!!"
Government Office North-East also told Sunderland Council on November 13 that a loading bay already in place in Holmside in the city would have to be extended to the full 2.7m.
It was originally just 1.5m wide, but the council did evtend it this year to 2m.
And it emerged that other loading bays in the city were already well before the legal minimum width.
But Sunderland Council chief executive Ged Fitzgerald said yesterday: "The council totally refutes any inference that there has been any form of entrapment in the context of decriminalised parking in the city of Sunderland."
The council asked for permission for a bay two metres wide - smaller than the legal 2.7m minimum.
The council said it had not yet created the bay in Front Street, and it would comply with regulations when it did.
The loading restrictions are being created in response to traders' concerns about parking. The problem in Holmside is understood to have been uncovered by an internal review of the city's parking problems, which reported last January.
It was carried out in response to a series of blunders over signs, lines and traffic orders which forced the authority to repay thousands of pounds in wrongly collected fines.
However, the council insists its overall regime remains legally robust.
It was buoyed in its claim by a parking adjudicator's decision last month to reject 26 out of 28 appeals taken by campaigner Neil Herron, who has fought against the system.
The council recently decided to take control of on-street parking back "in house" after staff from its contractor, NCP, were filmed making racist remarks in an undercover documentary.
Northumbria Police said they were "looking into" information about the parking system in Sunderland, but had not launched a formal investigation.

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