Saturday, December 13, 2008

Revolutionary Vehicle Tracking Technology ... check it out

The vehicle tracker is also available for the individual motorist ... FleetM8 Solo. Check out the website by clicking on the logo.
North vehicle trackers to be sold across India
Dec 12 2008

A SCIENTIST whose invention saved him from a speeding ticket and a campaigner for motorists’ rights have joined forces to commercialise a new tracking system which will now be sold across India.

North East inventor Dr Phillip Tann and Neil Herron – a well-known regional campaigner for motorists hit by questionable parking and speeding fines – launched a business on the back of Dr Tann’s groundbreaking vehicle-tracking system.

And yesterday the South Tyneside business, FleetM8, announced a deal with India’s SLN Technologies which will see the technology marketed throughout the Indian sub-continent.
SLN specialises in telemetric, tracking and communications technology and is involved in the Indian lunar satellite project Chandrayaan and worked on the control system for India’s moon mission.

Initially FleetM8 will market its products as vehicle tracking devices which can either be used via a mobile phone or attached to the vehicle to track speed and location.

However the company is currently working on a number of other applications for the technology including a child safety device and a mobile golf course-mapping device for golfers.

The technology first gained recognition last year when Dr Tann received a speeding ticket from Northumbria Police which claimed he was doing 42 mph in a 30 mph zone.
However, Dr Tann’s vehicle was fitted with a prototype GPS tracking device which not only recorded the vehicle’s position it also recorded a speed, to six decimal places, of 29.177196mph.
Today’s commercialisation of that device follows the sourcing of around £250,000 of investment by directors Dr Tann, campaigner Neil Herron and financial adviser Byron Longstaff.

In recent years Neil Herron has become a well known campaigner for the successful Metric Martyr’s fight – to be allowed to sell fruit and vegetables in imperial weights – and is also a champion for the motorist in parking and speeding disputes.

Last year he exposed errors in Sunderland’s legal regime which resulted in thousands of motorists being refunded for parking tickets.

As well as India, FleetM8’s technology has attracted interest from several other international markets.

Dr. Tann said: “Within a few years we anticipate that cars and other vehicles will once again take the lead with the integration of sophisticated technology transmitting data to a remote ‘black box’ at such low cost and volumes that will enable a multitude of applications to be utilised.
“Just imagine the road networks as a computer network with traffic lights as switches and roundabouts as hubs and we could end up with super-efficient highways and massively reduced congestion.”

The company is preparing to launch the technology in Australia as a mobile phone application through a partnership deal with Vodafone.

FleetM8 has also gained interest from the States and is in talks with a number of haulage firms who could harness the system to monitor long-distance trips. In South Africa, where vehicle theft and car-jacking is rife, interest has been shown in FleetM8 by businesses who would like to market it as a tracking device to assist in recovering stolen vehicles.

Similarly in Kenya, local authorities have expressed an interest in the technology to prevent the increasingly-frequent hijacking of its postal vans.

Dr Tann is also developing a child-tracking application through either a special clip or a mobile phone download for older children, which is expected to come to market in the new year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Had a ticket in Ealing ... better read this and tell your friends

Ealing's Councillor Taylor says: "We have to draw the line somewhere ..." May I humbly suggest that he gets permission AND legal advice first. Ealing Council is already in enough trouble drawing lines where they shouldn't!

Ealing Council could be investigated by police for fraud
10:38am Thursday 11th December 2008
Ealing Times
By Alex Hayes

POLICE could be called in to investigate Ealing Council for fraud after it refused to hand out refunds for cash taken on unlawful box junctions.

Cops are investigating a north London borough where 73 tickets were handed out by the local council on one unlawfully marked box junction.

This number is dwarfed by the 59,728 penalties handed out by Ealing Council in the past two years on six junctions which were finally taken up earlier this month, following advice from the Department of Transport (DfT).

Ealing Council has agreed to repay people sent £100 tickets from the junctions in Southall, Hanwell and Ealing Broadway, from June 20, when it was revealed last week the council was told the markings were wrong by the DfT.

However, campaigners are now pushing councillors to refund every penny dished out by drivers since the junctions were put in place in 2004.

Jim Douglas, a campaigner for the Motorists Legal Challenge, an organisation set up to challenge councils over incorrect road markings, said the group was considering calling in police to investigate Ealing Council on grounds of fraud.

He said: "The principles of British law have shown the money is refundable from when it started to be taken unlawfully, and not from when the council was told it was wrong.
"This has been proven in court with banks found guilty of mis-selling policies. They offered to pay back cash from when they discovered products were being mis-sold, but were told to pay back the whole lot.
"We still want the council to admit its mistake and pay back the cash, but until it does this it will have dirty money on its books."

Mr Douglas also said police investigating the other box junction had admitted it was a sensitive area, because of their close working relationship with the local authority.
Ealing Council has spent thousands of pounds putting 50 extra Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) on the streets, and also works closely with officers in areas such as trading standards and envirocrime.

He continued: "Obviously, this problem could present itself in Ealing as well, and so we want to know whether officers from Ealing would be investigating.
"There is a conflict of interests here, so perhaps it would be better if it was looked at by people from another borough who are independent."

He said the group would be contacting Councillor Phil Taylor, who is in charge of parking, to lay down its position before pursuing the case any further.
Cllr Taylor said the threat would not change the council's stance on the issue.
He told the Ealing Times: "We have to draw the line somewhere, and if we kept going back over history the council would never be able to move forward in anything it does.
"We still believe those junctions were legal, but the DfT weren't happy with them so we took them up."

Anyone interested in joining the campaign for a refund can send an email to:

What do you think of Ealing Council's position? You can post a comment below or contact Councillor Taylor on his blog here

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One small step for Dr. GPS one giant leap for vehicle tracking ...

FleetM8 PRESS RELEASE: 11th December 2008



In October 2007 North East inventor Dr. Phillip Tann received a speeding ticket from Northumbria Police alleging that he was doing 42mph in a 30mph zone. Fortunately for Dr. Tann his vehicle was fitted with a prototype GPS tracking device that not only recorded the vehicle’s position it also recorded the vehicle’s speed … to six decimal places.

(left) Dr. Tann with the FleetM8 Tracker

The headlines ‘Inventor wins speed camera battle’ went around the world when the Crown Prosecution ‘withdrew the case because the officer who operated the camera had retired.’

In 2008 Dr. Tann teamed up with Motoring Campaigner Neil Herron to develop a version of the highly accurate vehicle tracking device for the mass market and FleetM8 was created using the unique patented technology. FleetM8 not only monitors the vehicle’s speed and location in real time it also provides a full history of a vehicle’s movements for a twelve month period which can be accessed at any time and reports and statistics produced.

A version, known as FleetM8 Solo, has also been developed for the individual motorist and can provide data to challenge speeding and parking fines as well as monitoring driver behaviour. Alerts and reports as well as geo-fencing are all useful benefits for fleets and the individual motorist alike and users of the device report better driver awareness and behaviour as a result.

Because FleetM8 is effectively a ‘black box’ within a vehicle and can prove pre-collision behaviour as well as the immediate location and recovery of stolen vehicles substantial discounts on premiums are available.The company has expanded, taken on a number of employees and re-located from Birtley to South Tyneside with support from South Tyneside Council and Business Link.

In September FleetM8’s Neil Herron and Byron Longstaff went on a UK Trade and Investment Mission to India and met a number of companies who had expressed an interest in working with FleetM8 and the technology and an interest in taking the product to market in India. As a result of this visit SLN Technologies are to partner FleetM8 in India and take FleetM8s revolutionary vehicle tracking device to market in the whole of the Indian sub-continent. SLN Technologies are no stranger to groundbreaking telemetric, tracking and communications technology as they are currently involved with the Indian lunar satellite, Chandrayaan. having worked on the worked on the control system for the Moon Mission, India’s most prestigious project.

Anil Kumar at SLN Technologies

Anil Kumar, Director of SLN Technologies said: “We are very pleased to be partnering FleetM8 and looking forward to taking this exciting technology to market in India. We anticipate massive demand for the unique product that Dr. Tann has created and it will be highly beneficial to anyone operating any fleets in India, whether it be trucks, tankers, buses or taxis. We believe that the unique, patented technology will revolutionise the GPS tracking industry and we will be working closely with Dr. Tann in taking new ideas forward using his concept.”

Neil Herron, Director of FleetM8 said: “We have experienced a great deal of interest in Dr. Tann’s patented technology from around the world and SLN Technology impressed us with their set up and understanding of the massiveworld potential.. GPS Tracking applications and GPRS data transmission is set to revolutionise the way remote data can be captured, stored, accessed and utilised and we anticipate that it is set to become the fifth utility service. The FleetM8 and FleetM8 Solo Vehicle Trackers are the first application of the technology to be taken to market, but there are a myriad of applications that can use the technology such as child or asset tracking, mapping out your golf round to replay on your home PC. The secret in the technology is the unique and cost effective way that the data is compressed and transmitted and because of this, the technology has the edge over all the other products on the market.”

Dr. Tann, states: “This is one small step for FleetM8 but one giant leap for the GPS tracking industry. Within a few years we anticipate that cars and other vehicles will once again take the lead with the integration of sophisticated technology transmitting data to a remote ‘black box’ at such low cost and volumes that will enable a multitude of applications to be utilised. Just imagine the road networks as a computer network with traffic lights as switches and roundabouts as hubs and we could end up with super-efficient highways and massively reduced congestion … all because the transmission of data is so low that it will enable route optimisation and analysis.”


Neil Herron
Tel. 0191 5192379
Mob. 07776 202045


Inventor wins Speed Camera battle

SLN Technologies

India launches first Moon mission

Friday, December 05, 2008

Revolutionary Vehicle Tracking Technology launched

A revolutionary, highly accurate, low-cost vehicle tracking system for the motorist is has just hit the market (FleetM8 Solo) ... at an amazingly low price compared to the competition and with a monthly licence of only £6.00!

You can use it to challenge PCNs by showing exactly where you were parked and for how long. This product has multiple uses including monitoring your vehicle in real time as well as historically. Check it out.

A version is also available for companies with multiple vehicles. As well as monitoring vehicles' movements, including on-screen display of speed and location, FleetM8 can also produce numerous reports tailored to a company's individual needs.

Click on the image below to watch the demonstration and find out more. I hope you will be as impressed as I was when I was first introduced to the technology.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Two Speeding Tickets and a Take-Away in three and a half minutes ...

FleetM8 inventor Dr. Tann was alleged to have been doing 42mph in a 30mph zone and proved with his patented technology, that he was doing less than 30mph.
BBC Report here

The Police dropped the case. If Mrs. Whitmore, in the report below, had had the FleetM8 Solo device fitted to her vehicle then she would have been able to access her own data and show exactly what speed she was doing at the time she allegedly did 38mph at the same location ... twice!

However, based on Mrs. Whitmore's details of her journey Dr. Tann was able to retrace the journey using his fitted FleetM8 Solo device and the shortest time he was able to manage was 5 mins and 48 seconds. The journalist reporting below managed 5 minutes and 6 seconds.

Mrs. Whitmore is consulting lawyers in order to fight the case because she faces an automatic ban if convicted.

Mum caught speeding twice in under four minutes
Dec 3 2008
by Sam Wood,
The Journal

A HUNGRY mother was caught speeding twice in three minutes, 23 seconds, by the same camera – and found time to stop for a McDonald’s in between.
On August 22, Gill Whitmore was twice clocked by a mobile camera going at 38mph in a 30 zone on Ryhope Road in Sunderland.

She had travelled a distance of around three-quarters of a mile up and down the road and bought a snack at the Drive Thru hatch in three minutes, 23 seconds, according to the police speed gun.

Miss Whitmore, a single mother from Waldron Square, Hendon, Sunderland, says she will contest the tickets and points.
She already has six points on her licence and would be banned if both the speeding tickets were confirmed.
She is planing to see a solicitor next week to discuss the case.

The 45-year-old, who works as a kitchen assistant at South Moor Secondary School, said: “It is just impossible that I could have driven that distance and been to McDonald’s in that amount of time.
“I had nipped out to get some food for my kids and then I decided to get a sausage and egg McMuffin from McDonald’s.
“A week later I got a letter with two speeding fines. It seems funny to me that they were exactly the same speed as well. I think the camera was faulty.
“The manager has confirmed I went to the Drive Thru that morning and I still have the receipt.
“I need my car to get around and I am prepared to take this all the way to court. If it had just been one ticket I would have accepted it and taken the points but the fact they are so close together makes it impossible for both to have been me.”

Her case has been taken up by Neil Herron, who has tested the route with the equipment designed by Dr Phillip Tann, whose speeding case was dropped by Sunderland magistrates last year.

Mr Herron said: “We have retraced the journey at least half a dozen times using GPS technology to record our speed and the best time we have managed to get is five minutes, 48 seconds.
“To do the route in that time she would have had to drive across verges, cut across islands and speed around the Drive Thru. It is just not possible that she could have got both of those tickets legitimately, unless it is the fastest fast-food restaurant in the world.”

But last night Jeremy Forsberg, of the Northumbria Safer Roads Initiative, which is responsible for the speed cameras, said he stood by the accuracy of the equipment.
He said: “No one has successfully challenged a speed camera in the courts in Northumbria as far as I’m aware. I am totally confident that these cameras work.
“If it goes to court, first we will use the judgment of the officer and then we will rely on the evidence of the camera.
“I can’t comment on the length of time between the two photos but these cameras record speed accurately.”

Last night Oliver Mishcon, a specialist motoring lawyer, said: “This case is another example of how speed cameras are failing to do their job properly.
“Experience and research are beginning to show that they are unreliable at calculating speed.”

Journal reporter Sam Wood showing the time it took to complete the journey taken by Mrs. Whitmore ...
5 minutes and 6 seconds.


Leading Motoring lawyer Oliver Mishcon states:

"This is another example of how speed cameras are not doing their job properly.
They are often inaccurate and rarely help to improve road safety. In many cases they actually make drivers behave in a more dangerous manner by slowing down suddenly and speeding up again - concentrating on their speedometers instead of the road.

No wonder motorists are turning to specialist lawyers and technical experts. They feel persecuted by a policy which is motivated by economic factors, and they are often victorious.

Sadly, some do not have the resources for professional advisers, but more and more people are trying to stand up for themselves. I am sure their determination will eventually force a change of policy, so that soon we will see improvements to driver training and more active police patrols on our roads once again. That is the only way we will start to really tackle road safety."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Bromley Council taking the p

This time it is the council taking the p and receiving it.

This just shows the arrogance of a local authority ... and failing in its duty to exercise discretion ... even AFTER the adjudicator's recommendation.

Maggie Gebbett, 63, was issued with the fine back in May.
Carer wheels out pennies for fine
BBC News

A carer has paid her £80 parking fine in a wheelbarrow full of pennies in protest at the penalty.

Maggie Gebbet, 63, was fined in South Street, Bromley, south London, after the ticket she bought peeled itself off her car's windscreen in hot weather.

Despite an adjudicator recommending the charge be cancelled, Bromley Council has insisted it be paid.

Mrs Gebbett, from Chislehurst, Kent, said councillors had been "extremely shabby" over the charge issued in May.

'Credible witness'
"I can understand the council going through a procedure, but when they are given advice, surely they should take that advice. It's a total charade.
"I can't believe they have been so cavalier about the whole thing. I know this has happened to others, but people get frightened about the fine going up and won't pursue it."
I'm furious about the whole business and most upset about being criminalised when I have not broken the law

Maggie Gebbett
She added: I'm furious about the whole business and most upset about being criminalised when I have not broken the law."

The mother-of-two wrote to Bromley Council's parking officers enclosing a photocopy of her ticket asking them to see sense and withdraw the charge incurred in South Street.

The council declined and she was referred to the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service (PATAS).
Following a meeting with a PATAS adjudicator in October, he concluded Mrs Gebbett was an "honest, credible and convincing witness" and recommended the council cancel the charge.
However, the officers chose not to adopt the lawyer's findings and requested she pay the £80 fee by 3 December or face an increased charge of £120.
"The adjudicator concludes that the contravention did occur and the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) was issued correctly," said a Bromley Council spokesman.
"Whilst we accept that mistakes do occur, motorists need to display their pay and display ticket."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

EXPOSED ... Ealing Council knew its junctions were illegal and still banked £1m

How many times did the cock crow?

How many denials have been issued?

More than 30 pieces of silver involved here ...
This will serve as a message to all councils, council officials and councillors out there.

This is not a game. Parking and moving traffic enforcement is not a revenue raiser and you cannot 'disregard' the law when it doesn't suit or when it impacts on the council's cashflow and budget. You cannot take money from the public to which you are not entitled.
It is one thing to be incompetent and get the law wrong. It is a very, very different situation to continue to take money in the full knowledge that such actions are unlawful.
The piece below is the result of the fantastic and determined work by Parking Appeals' Yellow Box expert Jim Douglas.

Taylor apologises over Southall box junction enforcement scandal
26th November 2008
By Alex Hayes

A COUNCILLOR has apologised after it was revealed officials knew six box junctions were unlawful five months before they were removed.

Councillor Phil Taylor gave the “unreserved apology” after it was revealed a council official was told by email in June by the Department for Transport (DfT) the six box junctions were too big.
However, thousands of tickets were handed to drivers until the DfT spoke to the council again at the beginning of November, and enforcement stopped.

The amount taken in fines on four of the boxes in South Road and High Street, Southall over that time could amount to nearly £1m.

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, the Labour transport spokesman, said: “There is damning evidence to show the council has failed to act after it knew the truth.

“In June they said they did not need permission from the DfT for these junctions, but then went and asked anyway.
“They were trying to deflect blame from themselves and push it onto the DfT. I gave Cllr Taylor the chance in private and in a Full Council meeting to suspend these junctions until the DfT ruling was in, but he declined both times.
“Now it turns out someone at the council knew the entire time. Cllr Taylor has accused me of being inflammatory, but the really inflammatory thing her is people were forced to pay when the council knew they were not legal.”

The row over the junctions blew up after a series of victories for drivers at appeal hearings at the parking adjudicator which started at the end of 2007.

However, at an appeal hearing on October 29, where a bus company was handed £700 in costs, a lawyer from the council was still claiming they had not heard back from the DfT.

Cllr Taylor, who is in charge of parking services, said he had not been shown the June email until today (yesterday).
He said: “We will be refunding everyone ticketed at the affected yellow box junctions since June 20.
“At the beginning of November we immediately suspended the junctions following advice from the Department for Transport.
“I believed that this was the first time the Council had been given this advice or the decision to stop enforcing them would have taken in June.
“I am furious that this email was never brought to my attention and I have ordered an immediate investigation on how this could have happened.”

Parking campaigner Neil Herron called for resignations, and for every penny taken from drivers since the bays started to be enforced to be paid back.

He said: “If this had happened at any private institution heads would roll.
“I think there should be resignations on the table after this.
“The question now should not be who do we repay, but how fast can we repay everyone who has ever been caught on these junctions.
“These people are public servants yet their attitude has been to deny everything and refuse to listen to advice.
“It's not what the public expects.”

Over the last two years more than £3m has been taken from drivers on the six wrongly-marked junctions, with £1.2m being taken since April this year.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Motorists in line for £3million refund after councils admit handing out illegal parking tickets

Motorists in line for £3million refund after councils admit handing out illegal parking tickets
By Daily Mail Reporter 24th October 2008

Motorists are entitled to millions of pounds in refunds after several councils admitted handing out illegal parking tickets.

The climbdown follows an investigation of local authorities around the UK which revealed the extent of unlawful parking restrictions.

Now thousands of drivers who received fines as long ago as 2004 can get their money back after councils agreed to refund more than £3million in penalties.

Motorists are set to receive up to £3million in refunds after several councils admitted handing out illegal parking tickets
The decision comes after a landmark legal challenge over the use of parking tickets as a 'stealth tax'.

Last month, 'metric martyr' Neil Herron - who led the campaign to stop the prosecution of British shopkeepers who were using imperial measurements - lodged legal papers at the High Court challenging millions of parking tickets.

Mr Herron believes that many are invalid because of flaws in the regulations which cover controlled parking zones.

And because of errors in the marking of lines and the wording of signs, many motorists have been fined unjustly, he claimed.

Metric martyr: Neil Herron believes many parking tickets are invalid
Although the court battle is still ongoing, his investigation - using freedom of information requests - has prompted action from several councils.

The largest rebate came from Surrey County Council which has agreed to refund motorists up to £2.8million because its CPZ regulations were incorrectly drafted in 2004.

Any motorist who got a ticket within that zone from 2004 to September 2008 is entitled to a rebate.

Earlier this year Sheffield Council agreed to refund £350,000 to 13,500 motorists for poor signage at bus and tram gates in Hillsborough.
Lancashire City Council is also under pressure to pay back fines after it emerged that white lines may not have been painted properly.

In South Tyneside, motorists fined for parking in incorrectly marked loading bays are getting their money back. And Harrow Council has been forced to cancel 3,400 tickets due to an error in their format.

Police are also investigating Leeds City Council, which is alleged to have fined motorists even though it knew its parking restrictions were not legal. The council denies this.

Since 1999, when the Government gave councils responsibility for handing out parking tickets - instead of the police - the number of fines has risen almost tenfold

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Excellent Transport for London Initiative ... forward on

Their parking enforcement causes a great deal of anger and resentment from motorists and commercial vehicle operators but this Transport for London initiative deserves support.

Please forward to your network and your drivers.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Motorists Legal Challenge Fund receives support from London's Cabbies

The Motorists Legal Challenge Fund this week received support from London Cab Drivers Club in the form of a cheque for £500 from Grant Davis and Paul White.

While we were filming the clip below we had dozens of people wanting to support the Fund and agreed with Grant and Paul's sentiments that it was about time that someone stood up to be counted and their organisation and their drivers would show solidarity by making a donation.

Grant sums up the mood in the clip below ...

Click on the link to find out more about the London Cab Drivers Club

Neil Herron states: "It is fantastic to have support of the LCDC and their drivers. It is a pretty daunting task to consider a big legal action alone but knowing that the cabbbies are onside means that the word will spread very quickly indeed and the Fund will grow. We hope that cabbies across the country will add their names to the list of the Fund's supporters."

Spread the word ... this legal challenge is on behalf of every motorist in the country and is intended to bring an end to councils using parking fines simply to raise revenue.

Not about revenue? Check out Edinburgh's nice little CPZ earner

Controlled Parking Zones lead to more fines ...

Car parking nets council £20m from motorists
The Scotsman
18 October 2008

EDINBURGH'S parking rules and regulations have handed the city council a record-breaking £20 million from motorists.

The income from fines, pay-and-display tickets, and residential parking permits soared by more than £3m in the last financial year, according to new figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The increase is largely the result of an expansion of the "controlled parking zone", which now takes in several city suburbs.

Critics today accused the council of using drivers as an "easy target" to help tackle its financial woes. The local authority insisted, however, that all money is ring-fenced for transport improvements in the Capital.

Between 2003 and 2007, the council's parking revenue rose marginally from £16.6m, before last year's sudden 18 per cent increase. The largest source of income came from pay-and-display tickets – up from £9.88m in 2006-07 to £11.58m last year.

Bruce Young, Lothian and Borders co-ordinator of the Association of British Drivers, said: "Far fewer people are driving into the city centre, so this is because there's been an extension to the controlled parking zone."It's actually less about controlling parking, and more about bringing in as much money as possible to recoup the losses from the congestion charging plans. They have not forgiven us for that."In all honesty, this is because the council is desperate for cash and motorists are an easy target."

The council has a contract with NCP to enforce parking rules, and last year that cost £4.48m. On top of that, the council paid out over £400,000 to maintain ticket machines.

The income included £6.75m from fines – over £1m more than the previous year, but less than the three years before that. Many city centre streets, including George Street, Chambers Street and Melville Street, recorded big drops in the number of penalties, while less congested roads away from the centre emerged as the new ticket hotspots. Council leaders believe the drop is down to better use of Edinburgh's variety of parking options, but business leaders say the falling number of city centre shoppers is the real explanation.

Nigel Duncan, vice chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses Edinburgh, said: "The council is getting a windfall, but that's to the detriment of the number of people coming to the city centre."Anything that stops people coming in is not good for Edinburgh's economy. If you look around the streets, there's a lack of people vying for parking spaces, and people from the outside won't come because they think the blue meanies will get them. This sends out the wrong signal."

City transport leader Phil Wheeler said: "The income from parking is ring-fenced and goes straight back into improving the condition of our roads and pavements. This council has budgeted £20m a year over the next three years to address the backlog of repairs and upgrades required for the benefit of people in the city."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Another crack in the dam ...

... refunding 'as a gesture of goodwill.'

This is the type of arrogance and patronising behaviour that will incense everyone who has been fined.

We are rapidly approaching the tipping point.

More motorists get parking fine refunds
This is London Local
3rd September 2008
By Tomasz Johnson

Transport for London has been forced into backtracking even further over parking fines issued in Hampstead Garden Suburb.
Hundreds of motorists have forked out thousands of pounds after unwittingly parking in a poorly-marked bay in Market Place, unaware it was for loading and unloading only.

After two fines were over- turned by the independent parking adjudicator in June, TfL agreed to stop enforcing the bay and cancel all outstanding parking tickets.

But it has now gone one step further, following pressure from Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association (HGSRA) and refunded around 200 motorists a total of up to £12,000, after they sent letters complaining they had been duped.

Gary Shaw, of HGSRA, said: “We are delighted to have obtained these refunds for our members and for the many visitors to the suburb, who were unreasonably fined.
“This is another positive development after TfL withdrew all outstanding unpaid tickets earlier in the year.”

However, the fight is still not over for the association, which is demanding refunds on all tickets, whether they were challenged or not.

A TfL spokeswoman said it was not obliged to issue the refunds and did so “as a gesture of goodwill”.

She added: “While the adjudication hearing applies only to those penalty charge notices (PCNs) heard, TfL has taken the unusual step of reviewing other PCNs issued at this location. We have decided we will not be contesting appeals lodged, nor will we continue enforcement on any outstanding PCNs at this location.
“While this is not required by the adjudication, TfL feels it is an appropriate and positive step in responding to the issues at Market Place.”

An internal memo obtained from TfL under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals the loading bay in Market Place was TfL’s hottest spot for issuing fines.

The memo refers to a “significant level of antagonism” caused by the bay and others like it, where a high number of motorists had challenged their fines.

It also mentions the “risk at this area that customers who have already paid will be challenging TfL for refunds of PCNs.”

Mr Shaw added: “The system disgracefully prejudices the public and we do not believe that TfL should be even a penny better off as a result of what has happened in Market Place.
“We will be pressing TfL to return all remaining fines and for a charitable donation to be made in respect of any cases where the motorists can no longer be traced.”

Monday, October 06, 2008

Tom Conti leads for the Motorists Legal Challenge Fund

Screen star Tom takes on role as parking fine fighter
By Bob Smyth
Sunday Post

MOVIE star Tom Conti is leading the charge to raise a fighting fund for a court challenge to parking tickets.

The Scottish actor is a patron of the newly formed Motorists Legal Challenge Fund. Campaigners lodged a claim at the High Court in London at the end of last month seeking permission to apply for a judicial review that could force councils to scrap parking tickets worth millions of pounds.

Tom (66) has become involved because he’s a founder of the Motorists Action Group in London, where he is a long-term resident.He has put some of his own cash into the fund, which is backing the challenge to fines issued by councils across the UK. They include six local authorities in Scotland — Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth & Kinross, Dundee, Aberdeen and South Lanarkshire.


The Paisley-born actor, who starred in the film Shirley Valentine and TV series Donovan, became a campaigner after he suffered “an unpleasant incident with some bailiffs” over a ticket and because he thinks the treatment of motorists is extremely unjust.

He said, “I just hate unfairness in government and there’s a vast amount being perpetrated against anybody with a vehicle — and that’s an awful lot of people. “The local authorities are supposed to be there to help the people rather than harass them, but at the moment people are being harassed.”

He doesn’t consider himself a political person but admits his high profile can help the cause.

“Politics and the whole right-wing, left-wing thing is nonsense. There’s only common sense really and an understanding of what human beings are — and they do not want to be dictated to,” he said.

The case against the councils is being spearheaded by Sunderland campaigner Neil Herron, who runs the Parking Appeals website.Neil (45) has remortgaged his £200,000 home to raise £60,000 for the fight and says Tom Conti’s backing is vital.He said, “Tom has dipped into his own pocket to help and he is a very active supporter.


“We are speaking to another well-known TV personality who may agree to become a patron alongside Tom.”

Neil claims that many parking tickets are invalid because of flaws in the regulations that cover Controlled Parking Zones. CPZs were designed to cut down on parking sign clutter by having a notice at an entry point that applies restrictions to several streets.

Neil argues the legislation that created CPZs states that every road must be marked with single or double yellow lines or with parking spaces. He claims a strict interpretation of the wording means any CPZ that contains other markings, such as zig-zags, bus lanes, pelican or zebra crossings, is unlawful and parking tickets issued there are invalid.

He said, “Ultimately, we hope to force councils to cancel unpaid CPZ tickets and suspend enforcement within the zones until they’re legal. “We’ll have to mount a separate challenge to get councils to refund fines that have already been paid so we’re trying to raise £1 million to pursue that and other cases.”

A spokeswoman for Sunderland City Council, which is contesting the action on behalf of all local authorities, said, “It would not be appropriate to comment at this stage.”.

Lysette Anthony suffers parking ticket hell in Camden

Let's not forget that the story below is about Camden's parking restrictions

Meanwhile, as the majority of the parking restrictions in Camden are suspect to say the least if anyone cares to pass on our contact details we will handle any appeal for Lysette

It makes me sick: Actress Lysette Anthony falls foul of parking wardens while visiting son in hospital
By Lysette Anthony
October 2008
Comments (43)

Lying in the harshly lit anaesthesia room at Great Ormond Street Hospital, my four-year-old son Jimi was frightened. So as his little body collapsed under the weight of the drugs, common sense told me this was the ‘good bit’ – that now he was asleep he wasn’t in pain.

Diagnosed a year ago with juvenile arthritis – a childhood form of the disease that causes swelling in sufferers’ joints, making their limbs seize up so they struggle to walk – he was having steroids injected into his ankles to make them stronger.

It is the latest in a string of intrusive and gruelling treatments, including chemotherapy and a cocktail of painkillers, that he has bravely endured to combat his condition.

Forty-five angst-ridden minutes later, he came round from the anaesthetic, groggy and disorientated. We were told to keep him off his feet for at least 24 hours. Carrying him away in our arms, I thought that although Jimi, myself and my partner Simon Boswell were exhausted, at least the worst was over.

But arriving back at our car, we came across yet another obstacle to an already traumatic morning. A traffic warden or, as Jimi calls them, a ‘green man’, on account of the colour of his synthetic uniform, was putting a parking ticket on our windscreen.
Because we had arrived back 20 minutes late, we were being fined £60.

I lost my temper.

I have spent the past year worried sick about my son’s health. I had been pacing our North London home since 4.30am and the last thing I needed was a ‘Civil Enforcement Officer’ – as they are called nowadays – laying down the law to us.

He didn’t speak, other than to reel off a string of numbers – presumably our offending code – and summon his ‘co-officer’ from across the street. The pair then repeated the numbers to each other, more inaudible machines than human beings.

As I reached in to secure Jimi’s seat belt I snapped: ‘Do you think we’re here for a cup of tea and a sodding sandwich? This is a children’s HOSPITAL. Our son has just had an OPERATION. For 20 minutes you’re fining us £60? Shame on you!’

To their credit they had the good grace to seem embarrassed but their shame was scant compensation. This was the second fine we had received in as many weeks, and it has left both Simon and me incandescent with rage.

Surely, with the parents of a sick child, they could have exercised compassion. Shouldn’t a guaranteed parking space in the proximity of any hospital be a patient’s right? What are we supposed to do, call an ambulance every time Jimi needs treatment?

As difficult as it is to accept sometimes, we are the lucky ones. This spring Camden Council, the London borough under whose control Great Ormond Street lies, issued us with a disabled blue badge.

This allows us to park for up to three hours at a time on the single yellow line outside the hospital, which only badge-holders and ambulances are allowed to do. It is a laminated card with a cardboard clock you adjust to show when you parked.

We had arrived at the sick children’s hospital at 7am one day last month, the time all youngsters awaiting an operation under anaesthetic are expected to turn up. Wardens control the area from 8.30am.

At 11.20am Simon had left us in our hospital room to check on the car. He knew he needed to move it but there was nowhere to go.

Parking in London is exorbitant for everyone. However, at Great Ormond Street Hospital there isn’t even a car park to complain about. So, unsurprisingly, the street was packed.
Simon adjusted the cardboard clock to 11.20, assuming, wrongly, that wardens patrolling the area would understand our predicament and allow us more time. For both of us, it was the last straw.

Only a week earlier, while waiting for Jimi’s pre-operation assessment, we had been fined another £60. Simon had accidently left our badge – showing the prerequisite photograph of our son’s face, along with the badge details, issue number and expiry date – the wrong side up in the car. It was an innocent mistake but one the traffic warden, the same man on both occasions, was prepared to penalise us for.

Technically, of course, we were in the wrong. But isn’t £120 of fines, received while clearly visiting a hospital, rather disproportionate? And is the surrounding area of a hospital, which has scandalously limited parking, really a fit zone in which aggressively to pursue council targets?
We’re not the only ones for whom proximity to the hospital is of paramount importance and I am sure many other parents have encountered the same problems. Nor is this solely an issue for the capital. Hospitals around Britain – ones that do have car parks – often charge an outrageous fee.
Before we were given our disabled badge, we frequented pay-and-display areas other relatives are still forced to use. It costs 20p for five minutes in these – £4.80 per hour – and the maximum stay is two hours. In the year it took for Jimi to be diagnosed we would often have to wait up to five hours to see a consultant.

We were never given a precise time for these appointments. Both Simon, a composer, and I would have to take time off work simply to deal with the parking problems, spending hundreds of pounds in the process.

We thought a blue badge would afford us the simple luxury of being able to care for our son – who has been in and out of hospital up to four times a week for the past 12 months – instead of worrying about our car. Evidently, we were wrong.

As a society, we seem to have relinquished responsibility to an automated tribe of traffic wardens who don’t even have the manners to offer an explanation.

All individuality has been stripped away in their zealous attempts to catch out decent, taxpaying citizens so they can reach the financial targets set by their relentless bosses.
They hunt like pariah dogs and relatives of the vulnerable and ill are not their only targets. They will prey on anyone who will help them increase their revenue.I admit that being a traffic warden must be a horrible job. But would it really hurt them to look us in the eye as they slap on their extortionate fines?

Needless to say, we haven’t paid either fine. Simon has written to Camden Council arguing our case and asking how they can justify their employees’ uncaring attitude. They say they will consider any mitigating circumstances when processing the appeal. I don’t blame Great Ormond Street, who are doing a fantastic job caring for our son.

But I worry that unless the council finds more space for patients and their relatives to park in, and exercises more tolerance towards its targets, it is not just his health that will suffer. Countless other sick children will not be able to receive the medical attention they require – simply because their parents cannot park near enough to the hospital.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Illegal parking bays in Wigan

As the panic grows amongst councils it now appears that the 'rule of law' is now starting to have an affect. 'Industry' warnings from the British Parking Association and investigations by the District Auditor across a number of local authorities now has councils owning up to having unlawful restrictions and, in some areas suspending enforcement.

When you read the report below ask yourself why, if 'new parking regulations and restrictions will soon be put in place, which will mean civil enforcement officers can legally issue fixed penalty notices' then it is clear that the 'old' parking regulations were not legal and therefore could not be enforced.
Unlawfully derived income = unjust enrichment. Refunds must be made.

Parking warning
Wigan Today
29 September 2008

Motorists hoping to escape a parking ticket due to technicalities in a parking spot in Pemberton are being warned to park responsibly.

Due to some parking restrictions not fitting the legal requirements, such as the wrong markings for parking bays, Wigan council has been forced to stop issuing tickets in Fleet Street, in the paved area to the rear of the shops and post office. But a small number of motorists have written to the council complaining they have been issued with parking tickets in an area where civil enforcement officers cannot legally issue notices until new enforceable parking regulations are put in place.

In total, 11 tickets have been rescinded this year. But Wigan council warned that new parking regulations and restrictions will soon be put in place, which will mean civil enforcement officers can legally issue fixed penalty notices if motorists flout the parking laws.

A council spokesman said: "Although Vinci Parking have slightly jumped the gun following some work at Fleet Street, enforceable parking regulations are imminent and motorists should not run the risk of the amnesty still being in place."

The Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) in Huddersfield and Dewsbury are seriously flawed states Government Official

Had a parking ticket in Huddersfield or Dewsbury?
Are more refunds on the way?

Parking problems ‘known years ago’
Aug 20 2008 by Nick Lavigueur,

Huddersfield Daily Examiner

KIRKLEES Council was told its parking zones were “seriously flawed” by the Government more than two years ago, it has emerged.

Following last month’s exposé of the Kirklees-wide parking problem a letter leaked to the Examiner shows the issue had already been highlighted by Government parking officials.

The letter, from an officer of The Government Office for Yorkshire and Humberside’s integrated parking team to the Department for Transport (DfT) in February, 2006, discussed the council’s bid to take control of parking enforcement.

It was sent to the council’s road chiefs, along with a batch of pictures of defective road markings and signs.

The letter says: “The controlled parking zones (CPZ) in Huddersfield and Dewsbury are seriously flawed. This is due to the use of entry signs that do not conform to diagram 663 of the regulations and have not been placed in the correct manner as only one has been used where are two are required.
“There are also uncontrolled lengths of carriageway within CPZs, which is not allowed.”

The letter goes on: “A large number of parking bays have been marked incorrectly ... double end lines have been used, which is not permitted.”

The letter also slams Kirklees’s pay and display signs, its disabled bays, dual-purpose bays, loading bays, drop-off areas and taxi ranks.

Kirklees, like hundreds of councils across England and Wales, was granted decriminalised parking enforcement powers by the DfT in July, 2006.

But the Examiner has now learned that neither the DfT nor the Local Government Authority have been monitoring the situation or have any duty to make sure the council plays by the rules.
In fact, it seems there is no authority monitoring the council’s parking enforcement as the Government Office, the British Parking Association and the National Parking Adjudication Service (NPAS) all said it wasn’t their job.

A spokeswoman for the Government Office said: “The Government Office can only advise transport authorities to use the correct signage as required by the regulations. We cannot force them to do so.
“The recourse for the public, if they believe they have received a parking ticket where the signing is defective, is to complain to the NPAS or, if they believe the council are not following correct procedures, they can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman, who will investigate claims of maladministration.”

A DfT spokesman said: “It is the responsibility of the council to place traffic signs and road markings in accordance with the regulations or apply to the department for special authorisation.
“Whether signs and lines are lawful are matters is for the courts or a parking adjudicator to determine.
“We are clear that councils need to make sure they operate reasonably and within the law. Every case is different, but we would expect councils to seriously consider contacting motorists who may have been wrongly issued with a penalty charge notice.”

This latest scandal comes after the Examiner printed a Kirklees list of almost 100 parking bays awaiting remedial work in order to comply with DfT rules.

Former Kirklees councillor Jeremy Fisher, who obtained the letters, said: “For them to say they didn’t know what was going on is tosh. We have got the evidence here in this letter.
“This proves that what Clr David Hall said is wrong; it shows they’ve known about it since February, 2006. All I would like to see is somebody made accountable."

Neil Herron, director of, said: “The fact that there is no statutory body or watchdog has led to councils embarking on what is the biggest case of highway robbery since Dick Turpin rode Black Bess.
“The situation, because of the lack of scrutiny or censure, has led to the escalation of lawlessness by councils and officers who believe that they can act with impunity.
“The game is now up and it is only a matter of time before we see council officers in court and the initiation of a public inquiry into what has become a national scandal.
“I think there’s a lot of worried people at Kirklees Council as they’ve been caught red- handed.”

Kirklees’s assistant director for transport, Jacqui Gedman, said: “At a site meeting in March, 2006, which a Government Office official attended, detailed issues were discussed in relation to lines and signs.
“The council wrote to the DfT in April informing them of the March meeting and that the Government Office representative was satisfied that measures were well established to address the issues raised in relation to the controlled parking zones.
“The letter also gave the DfT assurances that where the council recognised there were non enforceable areas within the controlled parking zones, then these areas would not be enforced until remedial works had been completed. That remains the case.
“The council considered that the subsequent granting of enforcement powers on July 3 was an endorsement from the DfT that it and Government Office were satisfied with Kirklees’s approach.
“The council did follow the DfT's advice and did not knowingly enforce powers until such time as signing and lining was corrected.”

Councils cannot keep unlawfully derived parking ticket income

In the article below the council deftly avoids the issue of refunds.
The Traffic Order is the legal document which allows the council to levy the charges. Quite obviously, because of the suspension and the need to create the new order and the offer of refunds, the original order was not valid ... therefore no financial liability can arise. Should the council not volunteer to refund monies then an objection to the council's accounts can be made.

However, it appears as though the council is set to do the decent thing for which they should be praised. This is precisely what happened in Sheffield.

If they decide not to then it is likely that legal action will follow.

‘Unjustly enriched council cannot keep parking fees’
By Colin Parker
Get Surrey

PARKING authorities in Guildford may not be allowed to keep the £2.8m they have received in on-street parking fees since 2004, according to an appeals expert.

Neil Herron, who runs the website , said that under auditing laws local authorities were not allowed to keep money gained illegally.

He added it was not enough for councils to offer refunds only if evidence was produced, rather they should contact anyone who has paid money to offer them their cash back.

Last month, Surrey County Council (SCC) discovered a legal blunder in its on-street parking order that meant fees had been invalid since 2004.

Mr Herron said he has been contacted through his website by Guildford motorists seeking information on the town’s parking mishap.
“If they are taking this money then they have been unjustly enriched and so they cannot keep that money,” he claimed.
“They should speak to anyone who has paid and offer to give them back the money voluntarily.”

Guildford Borough Council said a total of 24,000 on-street parking fines related to pay and display had been illegally handed out to motorists in Guildford since 2004.
As of last Monday, the borough had received a total of 47 letters concerning penalty charge notices and 16 on pay and display ticket refunds.
Some letters stated multiple claims.

The authority is working on refunds with the county council, who will consider the claims.
It is estimated the local authorities are losing about £2,200 for every day free parking has been in operation.

SCC, which has accepted full responsibility for the mishap, has now changed the faulty paperwork that led to the free parking in the town.

It has confirmed motorists can go about paying for parking in the same way as before, and added there will be no increase in charges and residents’ parking will remain unaffected.

David Munro, the executive member for transport, said: “We can assure everyone we are now committed to getting things back to normal so motorists, residents and others have a parking system that meets all their needs.”

The authority must now advertise the changes for three weeks, until October 24, after which SCC’s Executive will rubber-stamp the new order at the beginning of November.

A spokesman for SCC said: “We took careful legal advice before making the decision to suspend charging and we continue to follow this advice."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Had a parking ticket in Guildford? Help is on the way.

First big one was Sheffield. Then submitted Freedom of Information requests to all councils to check which ones KNEW that they had non-compliant restrictions and paperwork and now suddenly councils are suspending enforcement and refunding money BEFORE we expose them.

However, there is one northern authority who is now fully aware that their restrictions are unlawful because of a Traffic Order problem which goes back to 2001 and one south London authority who have CPZ problems going back 10 years.

It is anticipated that many more will start to own up to problems to avoid more serious investigations and legal action.

Is it time for everyone to come clean or will some try to maintain that the law doesn't apply to them and they can use unlawful signs as long as 'the motorist doesn't appear to have been misled.'

Legal blunder leads to free parking in Guildford
Get Surrey
By Colin Parker 18/ 9/2008

GUILDFORD’S shoppers can temporarily park on the town’s streets without having to pay following a legal error.
Signs were put up this week near the 495 on-street pay-and-display bays advising motorists about the situation.
The suspension in charging, which does not affect off-street parking or yellow lines in Guildford, is likely to last until November.
Experts working at Surrey County Council (SCC) noticed a mistake in the authority’s written parking order, which has meant all fees and fines are invalid.
Anyone with proof of on-street parking, or of having paid a fine, over the past four years can now apply to Guildford Borough Council for a possible refund. More ...

Had a ticket in Guildford?

We are currently in discussions with Guildford Borough Council to determine exactly what their procedures will be to ensure that everyone who s entitled to a refund is informed, and to ensure that the council does not keep any 'unlawfully derived' income.

Once established you wil be able to go to where you will be able to download a standard letter to request a refund. This will be available free of charge to ensure that no-one loses out.

Meanwhile, here is the series of questions put to Guildford's Head of Parking:

Mr. Kevin McKee
Parking Manager
The Parking Office
Guildford Borough Council
Laundry Road

2nd October 2008

Dear Mr. McKee

Re: Refund of Parking Fines issued by Guildford Borough Council

I run an online parking appeals company and have been contacted by a number of people seeking clarification of the reasons behind the problem with Guildford Borough Council's on-street parking problem and the procedure required to obtain refunds.

In order to ensure that everyone is supplied with the correct information and to avoid any extra burden on the public purse caused by duplicated Subject Access Requests and Freedom of Information queries I would be grateful for clarification of the following:
However, I wish to firstly commend Guildford Borough Council for going public with the admission that there are errors in the Traffic Order which has led to the council being 'unjustly enriched' and that refunds are to be made.

  1. In the first instance I would be grateful if you could please clarify why it is that refunds are not being made automatically when the council has the full details of those who have made payments especially as the council is not entitled to retain any, now admitted, unlawfully derived income.
  2. Secondly, can you confirm that it is only the Town Centre Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) Zone D which is affected and that the problem is specific to Guildford and does not affect or relate to any other TROs across the Highway Authority's (Surrey County Council) area and confirm what the error was and when and how it was spotted?
  3. If it has been established that there has been no legal basis for issuing fines or requesting payment for on-street parking what does the council intend to do with its unlawfully derived income in order to avoid an objection to the accounts under Section 17 of the Audit Commission Act 1998? Do you intend to donate any surplus to charity, if so, which one?
  4. How do you intend to inform all registered keepers who have been issued with fines in the affected area and time period of the current situation bearing in mind that many may not be readers of the local press?
    I have copied this in to a number of interested parties. I look forward to your response.

    Yours sincerely,

    Neil Herron

    Parking Appeals Ltd.
    26 York Street
    W1U 6PZ

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Let the meltdown begin ...

The last few weeks have been rather busy, preparing matters for the High Court Judicial Review The case was lodged last Thursday and was widely reported here
However, there have been a number of developments over the last few weeks arising from the fact that we have submitted Freedom of Information requests to councils asking them for details of locations which they are aware have signs and lines which do not comply with the law and whether they are aware of any Traffic Order problems.
Sheffield City Council was the first to do the decent thing and offer refunds. 'Tramgate Fines to be repaid.' Read it here

As the responses start to come in some councils are 'confessing' to the press before we have a chance to go public. As a result, collective cries of 'mea culpa' are beginning to be heard across the length and breadth of the land.
Here are a few ... this one followed our highlighting of the problem across Lancashire ...

PARKING bosses face having to pay back fines worth thousands of pounds after it emerged white lines may not have been painted properly.

A DfT spokesman said: “Local authorities need to make sure they operate reasonably and within the law. More ...
... and then we met Haringey MP Lynne Featherstone and a few councillors and highlighted how many of the restrictions across Haringey were non-compliant ...

NEARLY 40 per cent of parking fines cancelled at appeal last year were down to bungled council signs and road markings, the Liberal Democrats have claimed.More than 1,400 residents had their parking tickets cancelled from August 2007 to July 2008 due to Haringey Council error after appeals found road signs, markings and traffic management orders were at fault. More ...

... a local coffee shop owner in South Tyneside got in touch after getting a ticket in a loading bay ... trouble for the council ensued ...

Loading bay blunder could cost thousands
Shields Gazette
22 September 2008
By David MacLean

COUNCIL bosses could have to pay back thousands of pounds after it was discovered some of its loading bays were too narrow.
South Tyneside Council has suspended issuing penalty charge notices (PCNs) on all 45 of its loading bays while they are being reviewed and, where necessary, re-marked. The move comes after the Department for Transport told the council four bays in the Market Square and one at the western end of Smithy Street, next to Argos, were 20cm too narrow.
... and the most recent in Guildford, perhaps coming from the fact that it seems that after we asked every council in the country whether their Traffic Orders and signs and lines were compliant a lot of councils are hastily checking. It seems that they are all aware now how serious it is to take money from people illegally, and aware of the fact that the matter is set to become a lot higher in profile and The Motorist Legal Challenge Fund is likely to end up taking legal actions against those who think that they are above the law.

Legal blunder leads to free parking in Guildford
By Colin Parker 18/ 9/2008

GUILDFORD’S shoppers can temporarily park on the town’s streets without having to pay following a legal error.

Signs were put up this week near the 495 on-street pay-and-display bays advising motorists about the situation.

The suspension in charging, which does not affect off-street parking or yellow lines in Guildford, is likely to last until November.

Experts working at Surrey County Council (SCC) noticed a mistake in the authority’s written parking order, which has meant all fees and fines are invalid. More ...

Kentucky fried parking ticket. Not quite the bargain bucket

When will the likes of Kentucky Fried Chicken realise that treating customers in this way is not the way to do business?

Fast food trip lands £163 bill
Sep 30 2008 by Sam Casey,
Huddersfield Daily Examiner

FAST food fan Natalie Jackson has been hit with a super-sized £163 bill for her KFC ‘bargain’ meal.
Miss Jackson, 24, got fined £150 for parking for too long at the Leeds Road restaurant while she and a friend enjoyed a £13.16 bargain bucket.
They stayed for 13 minutes longer than the maximum allowed time of 75 minutes.

She said: “I think it’s disgusting.
“I had receipts to prove I had been in there eating and they weren’t even interested in discussing it.
“I’m not going to pay, I’m going to fight it. I think it’s ridiculous to be charged £150 to go and sit in there for an hour and a half.
“I spend a lot of money in there – I used to go in there three times a week – and they have lost my custom. I’m never going back.”

Miss Jackson, of Moorlands Rise, Meltham, went to the restaurant on the evening of September 16.
She did not see the signs telling customers they can stay for only 75 minutes.
She later discovered there are cameras at the entrance and exit to the car park which record what times cars arrive and leave.
It was only when she received a ticket in the post a week later from parking company Civil Enforcement Ltd that she realised she had broken the rules.

She said: “I didn’t feel like I was in there all that long.
“I was having a conversation, not thinking there was a time limit. I went out to the car, didn’t think anything of it, then I got the ticket.
“I can understand them wanting to clamp down on people who aren’t eating there, but this is punishing their own customers.
“It’s not a reasonable amount of time to allow. If you are a businessperson you might take your time. If you have a child or are disabled it might take you more time than other people.”

She complained to the restaurant, but was told it was the parking company’s responsibility.
The Examiner was unable to contact Civil Enforcement Ltd, which does not have a listed telephone number.

A spokesman for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau said:
“Legally they aren’t doing anything wrong.
“The British Parking Association’s code of practice says they shouldn’t charge more than £150.
“This seems to be more of an issue of customer relations. If you have parked in a restaurant car park to go for a meal, you may not assume you could be fined for staying too long.
“You would hope that common sense would prevail, but this is a strange world we live in.”

Neil Herron, who campaigns against parking fines, said people should refer private parking companies to court.
He added: “The ultimate liability in this case lies with Colonel Sanders.
“Behaviour like this is enough to give anyone indigestion.
“To charge £150 for 13 minutes’ extra parking is highly disproportionate. At least highwayman Dick Turpin had the decency to wear a mask.”

A spokesperson for KFC said: “A parking restriction was introduced at the Leeds Road store to prevent non-KFC customers using the car park. The 75-minute time restriction is clearly signposted and is designed to accommodate our customers who generally eat for about 30 minutes.
“We regret that one of our customers feels she has cause for complaint and have put her in touch with Civil Enforcement who will be happy to review her case.”

Parking black holes set to appear in council's budgets

Are the black holes starting to appear because drivers are becoming more knowledgeable and therefore appealing more and more tickets successfully?

Cautious drivers 'leave council with a £1m black hole'
Islington Gazette

01 October 2008

ISLINGTON Council has a £1million "black hole" in its finances - because cautious drivers are getting fewer tickets, it is claimed. A shortfall of between £700,000 and £1.4 million is expected in parking revenue this year as hard-hit motorists take much more care not to get fined.

Finance chief Andrew Cornwell made the admission at an Islington Town Hall meeting. Warning his colleagues on the council executive of the impact of the credit crunch, he said:
"This financial report is very different from financial reports I have been able to give you in the past. "I have been warning for several months that times are going to get hard. The rainy day that we have been putting money aside for has arrived."

He added: "A lot of this is due to a shortfall in parking money and it is related to the economy. People are more careful on compliance with parking regulations in this situation."

Barrie Segal, who fronts, a ticket appeal website, said:
"Parking is not intended to raise revenue - in fact it is illegal to specifically raise money from parking fines. If there is a black hole in their finances caused by less parking fines it would suggest they have been using it as a revenue raiser."

Mark Wallace, of the Taxpayer's Alliance, said:
"This proves what motorists have long suspected - councils do exploit parking fines as a revenue stream. If that income is now falling the council have only themselves to blame for relying on it as a source of income when they weren't meant to."

Councillor James Murray, Islington Labour's spokesman on environment, said:
"Islington's Lib-Dems have had to admit what we have all suspected - they run parking for profit, not for people. We are calling on the council to give a fair deal for people on parking and stop treating it like some endless money-pot."

But Councillor Greg Foxsmith (Lib-Dem) said:
"We control parking to protect spaces for residents and to stop roads getting clogged. If everyone parked correctly there would be no parking revenue. Things are moving in the right direction with a fall in revenue as more park correctly and that is reflected in our budget.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

G24 parking expose in Sun - ANPR for Toys-R-Us Tesco Homebase Boots

Mr King and his firm, which operate number plate recognition cameras at car parks up and down the country, receieve hundreds of complaints EVERY WEEK from angry motorists.

And, in a bizarre twist, employees at the firm tell motorists with complains over tickets that the “director” responsible for dealing with customer services is named Neville Stanley, who Cashflow has learned is a 72-year-old unemployed odd-job man.

Stanley has never been a director of the firm and does not know he is supposed to be boss of customer services at G24.

The only director listed is boss Adrian King.

The firm use Neville’s name so that furious customers who ring up to complain can never be put through.

Complaining drivers receive a standard letter signed by the “Chief Enforcement Officer” with no identity, but when they ring up to ask whom they should write to, they are given the name Neville Stanley.

Customers are told that Neville, who lives in a one-bed flat in Neasden, South London, is “director of customer relations”.

When The Sun rang to speak to him at his office, we were told he was in charge of customer services but was on holiday.

On other occasions, attempts to speak to Mr Stanley failed as we were told he was in meetings or visiting a site.

On one of the occasions he was supposed to be in a meeting, we telephoned him to find him at home at Neasden — alone.

Neville was stunned when approached by The Sun and said: “I am just an odd-job man. I run errands when they want me.”

And he added: “I’ve never worked for the firm full-time and never been a director.”

He also revealed he was only paid £10 or £20 a day when he turned up at the offices — although he said he had not been to Beaconsfield for around six months.

G24 claims a list of well-known High Street names among its customers including TESCO, TOYS ’R’ US, HOMEBASE and BOOTS.

But the firm, which takes in around £120,000 a month in parking fines, is being inundated with complaints from customers furious about penalties of between £25 and £95.

It boasts on its website that its office is in posh Harley Street, West London, but that location is just a mail forwarding address.

Its actual offices are in a small flat above a dry cleaners in Beaconsfield.

But G24 has come unstuck after disgruntled customers heard about a legal loophole highlighted on a consumer revenge site on the internet — resulting in the firm being forced to scrap around 2,000 fines.

The wording of the letter found on challenges G24 to provide evidence the motorist has actually seen a warning sign on the car park which could be regarded as a contract between the firm and the driver.

It also stresses that the fact the car is registered to the driver does not mean he or she actually parked it.

Owners of cars are under no obligation to tell private car parking firms who was driving the car at the time. A parking industry insider has told The Sun that the firm has not challenged the letters because it cannot come up with any proof.

“They have had to rip up all those tickets because of this letter, which seems to be getting more well known.

“Many motorists just pay the fines without challenging them and others are frustrated by trying to make phone complaints.

"And if they try to speak to Neville Stanley they are always told he is not available.”

The Sun made several attempts to get a comment from Mr King, but he never returned our calls.

Angela Smith, Labour MP for Sheffield Hillsborough, is mounting a major challenge to private car parking firms like G24.

Mrs Smith has written to Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly to highlight her concerns that companies are using heavy-handed tactics to make money and are accessing people’s details via the DVLA.

She said: “I have been aware of several firms who use intimidating language to elicit payment. The amount demanded is often disproportionate and often people are not aware they have breached car park rules until they receive the letter.

“People have been wrongly penalised for not showing their ticket because the automated system could not see it, while others have been sent tickets for parking over the lines by a minuscule amount.

"Signs warning car park users of the rules and regulations are often so small that drivers do not see them on entering.”

Among the firms which Mrs Smith’s constituents have expressed concerns about are G24, operator of the huge Meadowhall Retail Park car park in Sheffield.

The car park is understood to be G24’s biggest earner, helping the firm to raking in nearly £2million a year from motorists.

The Sun

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