Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New parking fine threat to motorists ...

and another licence to print money for the councils. When inconsiderate parking was handled by the Police any argument could be heard before a court of law ... but more importantly, proper consideration would be given to the gravity of the situation because the Police did not have a financial interest in the outcome.
Now vehicles can be fined but the problem remains as the vehicle will still be 'causing the alleged obstruction.' The only difference is that the more tickets issued the richer the councils become. Also bear in mind that to prove your innocence your only option is to go before an adjudicator ... who is funded by the very system he is being asked to deliberate upon.

This lawless 'civil enforcement' has torn up the rules of justice and fairness and continues to ride roughshod over the country's motorists. At what point will you say enough is enough ... when YOU are fined £120 for being 51cm away from the kerb?

New parking fine threat to motorists
Millions of motorists risk being fined up to £70 for "anti-social parking" such as parking more than 19 inches from the kerb even if there are no warning signs under new proposals unveiled by the Government.

By David Millward, Transport Editor
Daily Telegraph
29 Jul 2008

Drivers who park too far from the kerb or by a dropped kerb would be at risk of receiving a penalty charge.

The Department for Transport is ready to allow councils to impose fines even where no warning signs which note restrictions have been placed.

This would hit motorists who are guilty of "inconsiderate parking", such as leaving their cars more than 19.7 inches (50cm) from the kerb.

Drivers who park by a dropped kerb would also be at risk of receiving a penalty charge notice from a council traffic warden – now known as a civil enforcement officer.

Under existing arrangements police have the right to remove a car which is causing an obstruction – such as double parking and blocking in another motorist.
They can also move cars left by dropped kerbs when there is a complaint – for example from someone whose driveway has been blocked.
Councils, however, can only issue fines when they put up notices making it clear to motorists that parking restrictions are in force.

Motoring campaigners fear that town halls will capitalise on these new powers just as they did when they were first given the right to control parking and pocket the fines under "decriminalisation".
"Nuisance parking should be tackled and the original intention of the guidance was to give drivers half a chance from committing an offence," said Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA.
"Now it seems now that councils want the powers to levy fines without any responsibility to deter unwelcome parking and worse they do not have to prove anything if it came to an appeal.
"The current position has worked well as blatant obstruction was always simple to deal with.
"If a car is causing a problem it is towed way. It's as simple as that.
"These proposals introduce a massive grey area which will lead to countless disputes where motorists will say they were unaware they were doing anything wrong.
"The danger is that if councils can make money out of this they will."

Barrie Segal, whose organisation AppealNow regularly takes up the case of thousands of motorists, was equally horrified.
"If councils get these powers, the number of tickets will zoom."

But Rosie Winternton, the roads minister, defended the changes. "Dropped footways are provided to help wheelchair users and those with powered mobility vehicles or prams get around easily and safely. They also allow residents to easily reach their garages or park on their driveways."
The minister also insisted that action against double parking was essential, describing it as an “anti-social activity that causes an unnecessary obstruction of the road, putting all other road users at risk.”
The changes will apply to councils outside London which will be brought into line with authorities within the capital.

Motoring organisations’ biggest fear is that those who are caught by the changes will have no knowledge that they are even parking illegally at all.

In some cases confusion could arise with motorists - and council traffic wardens - unsure whether cars have been parked next to a kerb which has been lowered to allow wheelchair access or one which is merely worn down.
However the Government believes the changes are justified and that forcing councils to put up signs would add to “street clutter”.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Glasgow fiddles and spins over £4m parking ticket write off

In what must rank as this year's most disgraceful piece of dishonesty, and one which would make Pinocchio blush, Glasgow City Council completely misrepresents the reason why £4m worth of parking tickets have been written off.

However, the truth is out there and any evasion will only lead to further investigation and exposure.

But ... if Glasgow's claims regarding DVLA are correct then this will cast doubt on the validity of EVERY Penalty Charge Notice.

Letter to the council follows the article.

Council writes off £4m of parking tickets
Glasgow Herald
July 29 2008

Scotland's largest local authority has admitted that around £4m due on 60,000 parking unpaid fines will almost certainly never be recovered.
The total is also growing by around £500,000 a year as more illegal parkers dodge the penalties.
The admission from Glasgow City Council comes after thousands of penalty charge notices issued in Scotland's four main cities between 1998 and 2006 were left with a legal question mark over them. The notices were flawed because they did not bear both the date of issue and the date of the offence, as is legally required.

The format of the notices has since been changed, but the mistake led to Edinburgh City Council in effect writing off around £6.5m in unpaid fines by telling sheriff officers not to pursue 70,000 unpaid tickets. It also cancelled a further 4327 and did not pass them to sheriff officers.

In Aberdeen £2.5m worth of fines imposed between 2003 and 2006 were wiped.
Glasgow City Council originally said in February 2006 that its outstanding ticket total was 71,315, worth £5.6m, but later that year it revised its figure and said there were just 11,000 outstanding, worth £580,000.

Now, in an answer to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the council has said the 60,000 difference was because "many of the previous cases going back several years have now been identified as unrecoverable and inactive".

The request was made by a regular contributor to the Pepipoo website, established to help motorists defend themselves against parking and speeding fines.

It means that between £3.1m and £4.7m in parking fines has effectively been written off. A spokesman for the local authority has since confirmed that it did not expect to collect the money for these tickets unless the offenders volunteered it.

The spokesman said it was wrong to assume that this was a blanket write-off of single-date penalty charge notices and said it was predominantly because of inaccurate details which are held by the DVLA.

But one of the campaigners against illegal parking charges said: "This is quite clearly because of the illegal single-date tickets, no matter what the councils say."

The council spokesman said: "This is not the case. We take advice from our recovery agents on every outstanding ticket to determine which ones we consider recoverable. The most common reasons are incorrect or out-of-date information registered with the DVLA and a failure to trace the individual.
"To put the figure in context, the 60,000 issued between 1999 and 2006 that are considered unrecoverable amount to little more than 5% of the notices issued.
"Although it is possible that many of those penalty charge notices (PCN) considered unrecoverable are also single-date tickets, we would not write them off for that reason and any unpaid single-date PCN not considered unrecoverable for another reason would still be on our system."

He said the statutory document was sent out to the registered keeper of the car involved in the parking offence, as provided by DVLA, and if that was not paid then a charge certificate was issued. If that was not paid it was passed to sheriff officers.

A spokesman for the DVLA said: "A recent survey highlighted that 94.5% of all vehicle keepers on DVLA's database can be contacted using DVLA's records. Also, 83.8% of all records contained no errors. Errors could be due to a number of factors, for example failure to notify DVLA of a change in vehicle colour or address."

George Black
Chief Executive
Chief Executive Department
Glasgow City Council
City Chambers
George Square
G2 1DU

Dear Mr. Black

In the edition of the Glasgow Herald dated 29th July 2008 a Glasgow City Council spokesman, in relation to the story regarding the writing off of £4m worth of Penalty Charge Notices, said:

"any unpaid single-date PCN not considered unrecoverable for another reason would still be on our system."

I would appreciate clarification of this statement, and confirmation of the following:

(1) Does 'on the system' mean they are on the system being pursued or on the system because they have been written off?
Are ANY single date Penalty Charge Notices are being pursued? If so, please clarify the legal basis for doing so as Justice Jackson stated that single date PCNs are a nullity from which no financial liability arises.

(2) What is the total value of income derived by Glasgow City Council from single date PCNs AFTER the High Court decision Barnet v The Parking Adjudicator [2006] EWHC 2357 (Admin).

(3) Please provide copies of all communications (written, telephone, e-mail) regarding issues arising from the above Barnet v The Parking Adjudicator [2006] EWHC 2357 (Admin) decision and on what date were the Glagow City Council PCNs changed to include two dates?

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Herron

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Are speed cameras legal?

This could be a blunder of bigger proportions than the parking ticket one ... again arising from the 1991 Road Traffic Act.

Robbie puts brakes on speed cameras
By Robert Wight
Sunday Post 13 July 2008

MILLIONS of motorists have been convicted of speeding on dodgy evidence from illegal cameras, claims a Scots roads campaigner.
Community lawyer Robbie the Pict, who helped bring an end to tolls on the Skye Bridge, has identified a legal glitch he says makes evidence from all speed cameras — fixed and hand-held — inadmissible in court.
Known as the ‘Irn Bru Defence’ because of its Scottish roots, the argument is being used by lawyers in several test cases on both sides of the Border.
If successful, it could lead to more than 10 million motorists convicted since 1992 claiming back around £600 million in fines.
"This has been called the Irn Bru Defence because it was made in Scotland and promises to throw a girder — not just a spanner — into the legal works," said Robbie.

"Millions of drivers have had monies unlawfully extorted from them because of convictions based on images from these illegal cameras. Compensation could take the Government's potential bill to way above what it would cost just to pay back the fines."
Robbie argues that prior to 1992, radar-type speed measuring devices needed only the approval of the Home Office. But from that July, the Road Traffic Act (1991) required all
new makes and models of speed camera to be specified in a Parliamentary Order.
This is supposed to be done using a Statutory Instrument (SI) — best described as a "mini-Act of Parliament" — and a new SI must be issued for each individual type of camera.
Robbie reckons that since 1992 over 40 different devices have been approved by the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers, but without the say-so of Parliament.

In June, barrister Michael Shrimpton used Robbie's argument to convince magistrates in Nuneaton to throw out a case. He is acting in around 10 upcoming cases and in Scotland the defence is currently being used in five more cases.
"Any driver who receives a letter notifying them of a £60 penalty and three points on their licence on the basis of video-graphic evidence should write to the relevant Chief Constable to ask which Parliamentary Order covers the device," explained Robbie.
"Or write a caveat on the back of your cheque stating it's only payable subject to the existence of the Order for the device."
A Home Office spokeswoman said, "All generic descriptions of speed measuring device producing records acceptable to the courts have been prescribed in the proper manner."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What's the difference between private and council highway robbery?

The woman on the left was jailed for 'blackmailing' motorists.

What's the difference between her and council officers who are aware that their council have no Traffic Orders in force, or that their signs and lines are illegal or who know they are enforcing illegal paperwork?

Taking money off motorists by purporting to have legal authority to do so ... yet knowing that they haven't whilst at the same time drawing handsome salaries and pensions ... answers please because I am struggling to find the difference.

The continued 'the law doesn't apply to us mentality' from some councils is set to bring the rest into disrepute ... but will eventually see some council officers go the same way as the woman below.

Car clamping woman sent to jail

Rebecca Meakin was found guilty last month
A woman who ran a car clamping firm which took thousands of pounds from drivers has been jailed for four years.

Rebecca Meakin, of Millers Vale, Heath Hayes, Staffordshire, was convicted of blackmail by charging motorists up to £300 to retrieve their vehicles.

Her company, Rowencroft Immobilisers, worked at car parks in Cannock and Worcester, Stafford Crown Court heard.

Judge Simon Tonking said regulation of the UK clamping industry was "far from rigorous".

He said: "The boundaries between what is lawful and unlawful are unclear.
"It is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs."

Her co-defendant Cameron Khan was jailed for four-and-a-half years for a number of charges, including conspiracy to blackmail.

Transport for London to be 'fairer' to drivers ...

Why the change of heart?

Could well have something to do with the imminent exposure of a number of enforcement 'errors' to the public at large ... driving a greater wedge between the motoring public and the enforcement authorities.

How will they ever regain the public's trust?

Always carry with you the old market trader's proverb ... "the thief with their fingers in the till never says sorry before they're caught and they never stop until they are!"

Let's hope Mr. Craig's employer has deep pockets to repay everyone who was fined when they weren't operating fairly.

We'll be fairer to drivers, promises transport boss
London Evening Standard
David Williams, Motoring Editor

The body that enforces the rules for London's roads today pledged to be fairer to motorists in future.

The move comes after criticism of Transport for London's heavy-handed policing of red routes, the congestion charge and parking fines.

Graeme Craig, its new chief of congestion charging and traffic enforcement, said: "We have got to change our attitude."

He said TfL was switching its emphasis from enforcement through fines to compliance by ensuring drivers understood the rules.

Figures show that 144,309 drivers were fined for parking in red-route loading bays in the year to March, compared with 37,418 in the 11 months to March 2006, a rise of almost 300 per cent.

Mr Craig, 40, said: "Up to now we have been unwilling to hold up our hand where we have made mistakes.

"Now I would much rather people understood and complied with the rules than issue high numbers of penalty charge notices. Every time we have to issue a penalty charge notice we should see it as a failure."

Mr Craig has ordered a review of TfL's website to ensure parking rules are easier to follow, and the organisation is also rethinking its "signs and lines". He said the three-minute rule for using loading bays on red routes was being increased to five minutes as a "sensible first step" and there could be other changes, such as allowing delivery drivers to book bays in advance.

A rule which meant cars that contravened red-route rules were towed away away immediately has been scrapped in favour of a 30-minute wait.

Mr Craig said: "I do not want penalty charge notices to be seen as a mechanism for raising revenue. My view is we have used enforcement to improve compliance and it has been successful but I would like to think we have reached a level of maturity that says there are more effective mechanisms to achieving this."

He said TfL would focus on drivers who deliberately flouted rules rather than those who made errors. It would also have to reduce costs to compensate for lower revenue from fines. Simon Aldridge, of, which obtained the figures-said: "We are glad TfL has listened and acted."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Nightmare on Every Street ... three strikes and you're out!

Given council's incompetence to date this is another nightmare scenario pending for the motorist.
Tickets issued in illegally signed locations. Non-compliant paperwork ... and now you will have your car clamped.

How many motorists will suffer because they have appeals pending?

How many motorists will be clamped because of incorrect data by the local authorities? Don't believe it could happen ... well read the story above.

Just wait for another batch of horror stories unfold, especialy now that councils such as Ealing are trialling these new powers. Think they are going to mend their ways? More ...

Motorists who fail to pay three parking tickets face having their cars clamped or towed away under strict new rules.
Ray Massey
Daily Mail
22nd July 2008

Parking attendants with hand-held computers will have access to a register of persistent parking offenders.
If they spot a car's unpaid penalties on their electronic logs they can call in a clamping van to immobilise the vehicle or tow it away until the cash is recovered.

New stricter rules could see more cars being clamped or towed away.

Council parking attendants in London will be allowed to clamp a car which has at least three unpaid parking fines - even if it is legally parked when it is spotted.

Motorists who fail to pay fines for other offences, such as driving in a bus lane or blocking a yellow box junction, face a similar punishment.

The powers have initially been given to local authorities in London under a Bill coming into force in two months' time.

It is believed other councils across the country will adopt similar tactics in due course.
The four London authorities holding a six-month trial of the new powers are Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Transport for London, the body responsible for all the main roads across the capital.

The law will also trap visitors from overseas as it makes no distinction between cars registered in Britain and those with foreign number plates .

The capital is seen as having the worst problem with fine dodgers.
Transport for London says the top 20 worst evaders have run up 1,712 unpaid parking and traffic fines between them. One unnamed offender is credited with 174 outstanding penalty charge notices.

Edmund King, president of the AA, welcomed the powers.

'The AA has regularly called for changes to parking enforcement which are aimed at targeting the persistent offender rather than person who makes the odd mistake,' he said.
'These tough measures should have no impact on most drivers but will let those who laugh at the system know that they cannot keep getting away with it.'

But there is also disquiet. Barrie Segal of motorists' champion AppealNow fears innocent motorists could run foul of the crackdown.
'There is a danger that cars will be towed away to the obscurity of a car pound, when appeals are pending,' he said.
'This is going to put enormous burdens on a motorist in making sure that councils have registered an appeal.'

The Government had originally floated the idea of a national 'three tickets and you're clamped' system, but developed cold feet in the wake of a series of database blunders.
Now it says it is up to local authorities to organise themselves if they want to share data.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: 'The Government has no plans to create a new national database of persistent offenders.
'It is for local authorities, as the relevant enforcement authorities, to consider how data could be shared between themselves for civil enforcement purposes.
'We understand London authorities have set up their own system and have themselves considered how this data could be shared with authorities outside London. This is a matter for local authorities.'

The department said that Section 79 of the Traffic Management Act, which operates nationally, 'specifically limits the scope of immobilisation and vehicle removal' to where a car is parked illegally.

The spokesman added: 'Current statutory guidance to local authorities in England defines persistent evaders as those motorists with three or more recorded contraventions for the vehicle where the penalty charge notices for these have not been paid.'

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

District Auditors asked to investigate councils ...

... is that the Grim Reaper knocking at Parking Services' door?

As the Civil Parking Enforcement meltdown continues across the country with more and more councils being caught out using illegal signs and lines and non-compliant paperwork many angry motorists are looking to expose their councils unlawful activity.

But there is no Government Watchdog.

There is no Parking Ombudsman.

The Department for Transport is toothless and fiddling while Rome burns, and in a state of turmoil ... do they support the councils and burn TSRGD or do they stand by the law and tell councils they have broken it?
Councils are desperate to have their illegal signs 'authorised' but at what cost? The admission that most of the parking bays are illegal and therefore unenforceable ... and more objections and more legal action?

The Minister however, thinks that everything is Rosie ... but why should she try and solve a mess of nightmare proportions when the Government is ready to call in the priest for the Last Rites?

So what can you, the aggrieved motorist and council tax payer do to expose the illegal activity of your council?

The answer is simple ... you can object to the accounts and object to any unlawfully derived or 'ultra-vires' income contained in those accounts, whether it be from illegal restrictions or non-compliant paperwork or from a failure to follow contractual obligations.

You can Click here to access a guide and an objection letter.

Councils are supposed to exercise due diligence when carrying out parking enforcement, especially with regard to their cancellation policies, and the collection and enforcement of PCNs. More evidence is coming in to us of councils who are cancelling tickets when non-compliance is pointed out by an appellant, but continuing to collect from those unaware of the law. Our recent case against a Lancashire Council was 'no contested' after our skeleton argument revealed unlawful documentation ... but the council has not volunteered refunds to those motorists who have been misled by unlawful paperwork.

Councils do not need reminding that restrictions and paperwork MUST comply with the law ... whether it be the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 or the 1991 Road Traffic Act or the new Traffic Management Act 2004.
There is no excuse for them getting it wrong ... especially with teams of highly paid officers and highways engineers.

Don't forget that when they applied to the Department for Transport for Decriminalised or Civil Enforcement powers they had to conduct a review of their Traffic Orders and associated signs and lines in order to ensure compliance. This is where they knew that the DfT had no power to check ... and so many councils misled the DfT in their applications. It would have cost too much to correct everything and the DfT wouldn't check ... so who would find out?

Well guys ... the game is up and the deceit is being uncovered and the chickens are coming home to roost. Motorists who have been fleeced by councils' illegal activity will be rather angry indeed that they have been deceived, especially the ones who have had the bailiffs come to visit and cars and goods taken.

Chanting the mantra that there is an appeals process is not good enough ... because that only works if the council has obeyed the law. If the signs or paperwork are illegal there can be no contravention. If the council KNEW (and there is a vicarious liability for the Chief Executive for the actions of his officers) then it becomes a lot more serious indeed ... and that is why the whistleblowers are whistling. They do not want to be the scapegoats for those higher up the ladder.

If any council officer knowingly misrepresents the situation then it becomes a very serious matter indeed ... hence a number of individuals across the country preparing cases for the Police and their own civil actions against individual council officers who, it appears, may not be protected by any council insurance policy. Perhaps Parking Services Managers should be hastily bringing their misdemeanours to the attention of their Chief Executives and elected Members and confessing their sins ... because the consequences of not doing so could be very grave indeed.

The public has had enough of being fleeced for the most minor of contraventions ... and because they have been treated with arrogant contempt for many years by councils and their officers who have seen them as an easy stealth tax victim there are many who will shed no tears when the dismissals for misconduct and legal action begins.

The long memories of disabled badge holders being ticketed for having a clock upside down, the motorists with a £100 penalty for being 2 minutes late, the car clamped and towed for parking a couple of inches over a yellow line will not care a jot for the crocodile tears of the Draconian parking enforcement apologists.

Let's hope the cry of mea culpa comes before the courts begin to be filled rather than after.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Drivers to have parking fines reimbursed

Yorkshire Post
By Alexandra Wood
HUNDREDS of motorists in Hull will get back money paid out in fines after Humberside Police admitted to wrongly issuing parking tickets over a two-year period.

The force should have stopped collecting the fines in July 2006 when Hull Council took over parking enforcement.Yesterday officers apologised and said 711 people who had been fined would have the money reimbursed.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Leaver apologised on behalf of the force, admitting it was not the "greatest moment" in the force's history.Hull Council highways manager Graham Hall said they had been one of many local authorities to take over parking enforcement under the Decriminalised Parking Enforcement scheme.

In a statement Humberside Police said: "As a result of a procedural error approximately 711 parking tickets were issued inappropriately in Hull between July 2006 and June 2008 by police officers, community support officers and special constables.

"Due to changes in the law in 2006 only civil enforcement officers working for Hull City Council are subsequently able to issue such tickets.

"The tickets issued by Humberside Police were for parking offences actually committed but the fines collected will now be reimbursed."

Police said the error only related to Hull and that their officers were able to issue tickets throughout the rest of the force area.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Kirklees councillor admits council broke the law ...

... but no refunds because ignorance appears to be a perfectly good excuse.

"Clr David Hall, told the Examiner that no motorists would be getting their money back because the council didn’t realise it was breaking the law."

Is it any wonder the public are starting to get fed up to the back teeth with politicians when they witness this breathtaking arrogance?

Looks like this is going to be the common plea in all of Huddersfield's Magistrates from burglars, shoplifters, rapists and the like ...'we didn't realise that we were breaking the law ... can we go?'

I am sure that the Police and the District Auditor will be invited to get involved ... and hopefully some local politicians with a sense of decency and integrity.

New twist in the bitter row over ‘illegal’ parking bays
Jul 12 2008 by nick lavigueur,

Huddersfield Examiner

ANOTHER parking row is erupting after a former councillor alleged Kirklees Council sent him false information in an official Freedom of Information (FOI) response.

The accusation comes after a Kirklees Highways officer insisted a parking bay on Victoria Street, Holmfirth was not illegal only for the bay to be modified a six days later.

Ex-Kirklees councillor, Jeremy Fisher, wrote to the council in mid May claiming the bay outside HSBC Bank, was incorrectly marked with double white lines at each end.
In his FOI request he asks: ‘When was this unlawful parking bay brought into use?’

The response from Kirklees on May 28 was: Kirklees Council does not believe this parking bay to be unlawful, the date this bay first came into operation was 11.9.1988’.

Yet a few days later on June 3 the bay was re-lined with single lines to conform with the Department for Transport (DfT) guidelines for bays that do not have individual spaces.

Mr Fisher also asked: ‘From your records when was the last time this illegal parking bay was inspected by Kirklees Council officers?’

Again council officers said: ‘Kirklees Council does not consider this parking bay to be illegal. It was last inspected on the 12.5.2008.’

Mr Fisher, said: “At first they wrote back and said it was illegal and then they went and corrected it.Two other bays on Victoria Road have also been altered.
“They are charged at the council to do everything by the book, but they could be open to being charged with deceiving me. They’re going to have to start answering questions truthfully,”
he added.

Mr Fisher’s FOI also claimed that that 17 parking tickets had been issued in the bay from July 2006, the point when Kirklees adopted parking enforcement powers from the police, to May 2008.

The Ministry of Justice, the government department responsible for FOI, said they did not comment on individual cases but a spokeswoman did say: “Anyone making a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act who is not happy with a response is entitled to an internal review.
“This involves an independent person assessing the decision on disclosure or the nature of the response received.
“If the applicant is still not happy with the outcome of the internal review, he or she may make a complaint to the information commissioner’s office.
“All public servants are expected to act in good faith and in the spirit of the act to provide accurate and comprehensive answers to requests made.”

A Kirklees Council spokesman claimed the FOI response had been issued after the bay had been corrected:
Their statement said: Kirklees has not provided any false information in a Freedom of Information request. We received the request on May 9 which gave details of lining of a parking bay on Victoria Street. We inspected this on the May 12 and took steps to correct the lining and also remark worn lines. This work was completed on June 3. No parking tickets were issued between the May 12 and 3 June on this bay.
“Our response to the FOI request was issued on the June 25.
“We maintain that we have not knowingly issued parking fines in areas we know to be unenforceable and as a general principle, it is reasonable for a council to assume that if someone has paid a parking ticket then they accept the fine.”

The claims come only days after council highways spokesman, Clr David Hall, told the Examiner that no motorists would be getting their money back because the council didn’t realise it was breaking the law.

Clr Hall claimed that parking enforcement had been suspended at any unlawful bays the council had been aware of and so car-owners had not been knowingly fined in unlawful parking zones.
But as reported in the Examiner on June 27, Kirklees had already compiled a list of almost 100 unlawful bays awaiting correction, including some where motorists are known to be still getting tickets.
The Express & Chronicle rang Clr Hall to see if he had changed his mind but he was not available for comment.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Restitution ... another council doing the decent thing

But London Councils' Nick Lester wriggles and squirms ...

Before we look at his comments ( I must point out that Mr. Lester some 12 months ago accused me of being a conspiracy theorist with no evidence that councils were acquiring monies unlawfully ... another few months and a few more whistleblowers and we will perhaps see where Mr. Lester wishes to place his comments) ... let us look at what the council says:
"apologised unreservedly" "taking steps to ensure it never happens again"

Now Mr. Lester:
"there was no legal requirement for any council to refund all those fined in cases where an error had been identified."
Based on what Mr. Lester. Case law?
Legal opinion?

Check out the phrase 'unjust enrichment' and in light of the number of District Auditor complaints, pending legal action and Police complaints starting up across the country it is likely that more councils will follow the line of Waltham Forest, Sheffield and Nottingham to avoid more costly litigation.

"Those who had already paid the PCN were, arguably, not entitled to a refund because they had accepted liability"
Oh really.
Did they not pay because they were of the belief that the council were operating legally using restrictions which were signed in accordance with the law
What about those who paid under duress with bailiffs in attendance. Did they accept liability?

The nature of the non-compliance is important, he said. In some cases the error may be no more than a “triviality”
A triviality?
In the same way as being a few minutes late back to a meter is not a triviality?

Or being a couple of inches out of a bay is not a triviality?
Or placing a Blue Badge the wrong way round attracts a ticket?

“Drivers who thought a fine was unfair should always challenge it."
Which is precisely what they all intend to do. It is unfair that a council can take money when they have no legal entitlement to do so ... but the challenge will come through complaints through the courts, through the Ombudsman, the Auditors and the Police.

“A PCN is not a requirement on a motorist to pay. It’s a requirement to either pay or explain why they don’t think they should pay.”
Need to stop calling them fines then. Looks like we are on the verge of parking meltdown once the motoring public realise how they have been well and truly 'drive shafted.'

"In cases where a PCN was found to be invalid it was not always practical or viable to refund everyone"
No Mr. Lester ... it is essential!

“There can be difficulties tracing people. You have to ask whether it is a good use of public money to try and locate everyone.”
The councils took the money and expended all the resources in their gift to find those allegedly responsible to take that money. The same resource and effort needs to be expended to give it back ... and any surplus MUST be given to charity.

Yellow box error proves costly for Waltham Forest
By Deniz Huseyin

Waltham Forest council has agreed to pay back thousands of pounds worth of moving traffic fines after it emerged that one of its yellow box junctions did not comply with signs and lines regulations. The London borough was told by the Department for Transport that the junction did not meet the Traffic Signs and General Directions 2002 because it overlapped a cycle lane.

The yellow box junction was installed last summer to keep the junction of Leytonstone High Road and Burghley Road clear because of temporary roadwork closures. Between August 2007 and February 2008 the council issued 4,059 penalty charge notices (PCNs) relating to offences at the junction.

A council spokesman said: “We are now in the process of writing to all those who received a penalty charge notice for stopping in the junction. We intend to refund all those who received a fine.”

Waltham Forest’s environment cabinet member, Bob Belam, who is in charge of traffic and parking in the borough, apologized “unreservedly” to motorists and residents for the “oversight”.

He said: “The council is carrying out a thorough investigation to find out why this has happened and will be taking steps to ensure that it does not happen again. As soon as we discovered this error the council instructed our parking contractor to stop issuing tickets incurred by motorists at this junction and have cancelled all outstanding tickets.”

The council has now removed the junction. “It was only intended to be a temporary measure to help with the movement of diverted traffic from an adjacent one-way system which was partially closed during highway works.”

Nick Lester, London Council’s corporate director of services, pointed out that there was no legal requirement for any council to refund all those fined in cases where an error had been identified.

Those who had already paid the PCN were, arguably, not entitled to a refund because they had accepted liability, suggested Lester. “The nature of the non-compliance is important, he said. In some cases the error may be no more than a “triviality”, he said. “Drivers who thought a fine was unfair should always challenge it. The appeals process has been made as simple as possible. There is no cost involved and you don’t have to hire a lawyer to appeal.”

He added: “A PCN is not a requirement on a motorist to pay. It’s a requirement to either pay or explain why they don’t think they should pay.” In cases where a PCN was found to be invalid it was not always practical or viable to refund everyone, argued Lester. “There can be difficulties tracing people. You have to ask whether it is a good use of public money to try and locate everyone.”

Had a ticket here in Leeds?

This was where the car was parked whilst attending the adjudication of Mr. David Flasher.
The decision which is in the Key Decisions section on the website shows that Leeds City Council's Notices of Rejection are invalid.
If you have been pursued by bailiffs or have had an appeal rejected you can now revisit your case.
Meanwhile, the PCN issued at this location has been cancelled ... along with the admission that the restriction is not signed in accordance with regulations. Therefore, until it is there is no Traffic Regulation Order in force ... and therefore any monies which the council has had must be refunded.
Dear Mr Herron
Traffic Management Act 2004
Penalty Charge Notice (PCN): LS32102873
Date of Issue: 11/06/2008
Location of Contravention: BRITANNIA STREET - CENTRAL
Nature of Contravention: 06 WITHOUT PAYING CHG OR DISP VOUCHER
Thank you for your e-mail dated the 17 June 2008 and letter which we received the 20 June 2008 in regard to the above PCN.
The Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO) issued the PCN because your vehicle was parked in a pay and display bay without displaying a fee ticket.
I have noted your comments and have checked the CEO’s pocket book notes which state the sign advising the restriction was on lamppost number 3 approximately 4 yards to the rear of your vehicle on the opposite side of the road therefore does not comply with regulations
I can confirm the PCN has been cancelled.
Thank you for bringing this information to our attention.
Yours sincerely
Anne Goldthorpe Appeals Officer

Monday, July 07, 2008

More parking refunds ... this time Hull

An admission that there was no legal authority to issue.

Same applies when there is no lawful restriction or no valid paperwork ... the money must be refunded.

Drivers to have parking fines reimbursed
28 June 2008
By Alexandra Wood

HUNDREDS of motorists in Hull will get back money paid out in fines after Humberside Police admitted to wrongly issuing parking tickets over a two-year period.

The force should have stopped collecting the fines in July 2006 when Hull Council took over parking enforcement. Yesterday officers apologised and said 711 people who had been fined would have the money reimbursed. Assistant Chief Constable Alan Leaver apologised on behalf of the force, admitting it was not the "greatest moment" in the force's history.

Hull Council highways manager Graham Hall said they had been one of many local authorities to take over parking enforcement under the Decriminalised Parking Enforcement scheme.

In a statement Humberside Police said: "As a result of a procedural error approximately 711 parking tickets were issued inappropriately in Hull between July 2006 and June 2008 by police officers, community support officers and special constables."

Due to changes in the law in 2006 only civil enforcement officers working for Hull City Council are subsequently able to issue such tickets."The tickets issued by Humberside Police were for parking offences actually committed but the fines collected will now be reimbursed."

Police said the error only related to Hull and that their officers were able to issue tickets throughout the rest of the force area.

Free Parking at hospitals ... Scotland next

When will an English politician take up the cause? Sign the petition here ...

Call to scrap NHS parking fees

Labour has called for all hospital car parking to be free

Car parking charges at Scottish hospitals would be scrapped under plans unveiled by Scottish Labour.
The Glasgow Springburn MSP Paul Martin has launched a members bill on the issue at Holyrood.
He wants it made illegal for health boards to levy fees on patients, visitors or staff.

The Scottish Government recently introduced a £3 cap on charges at most hospitals.
Mr Martin has been an outspoken critic of the introduction of fees at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow.
He said: "If commercial sites like Braehead and the Fort can provide free car parking, is it not a sad reflection that people are being cared for in hospital and their families have to pay to park?
"It is an extra hassle that patients and their families do not need at what is already a stressful enough time."

Even £3 a day is a significant amount if you are low-paid or have to visit a hospital regularly
David Watson Unison
Labour said the bill would apply to hospitals built under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) which are not included in the three pound cap on charges.
The public sector union Unison said it backed the proposal.

Scottish organiser David Watson said: "There is an obvious need to cut the car parking charges that have become a tax on the sick in too many hospitals in Scotland.
"Even £3-a-day is a significant amount if you are low-paid or have to visit a hospital regularly."

A Scottish Government spokesman said car parking was currently free at most hospitals and should remain so.
"Nicola Sturgeon has made clear in revised guidance that a maximum charge of £3 for parking should be used as a last resort where car parks are congested," he added.

Health boards have been asked to review their policies and report to the Government on how they comply with the revised guidance.
He said that would include information on hospitals operated under PFI contracts, and that further action may be taken.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Cars with foreign number plates get away with parking fines

It's not rocket science to work out that if your vehicle is not registered with the DVLA then you cannot be traced for parking and speeding fines. Nor do you have to pay the Congestion Charge.

This is another 'flaw' arising from our 'relationship' with the EU because the free movement of people (and cars) has meant that there are no internal borders within the EU. So, after May 1st 2004 when the EU enlarged over a million people have moved here to live and work, mainly from the new accession eastern European countries. Given that the Government's predictions were 13,500 (out by a factor of 50 in the first 6 months alone) then is it any wonder that the vehicle problem was not addressed?
What also must be borne in mind is that foreign registered vehicles do not have UK MOTs and therefore could be driving on the roads in a less than roadworthy condition.
The scale of the problem is going to be highlighted when checking the number of speeding and parking tickets which have to be written off ... as there is no reciprocal arrangement between members states and even if there was it would be administratively inefficient to pursue registered keepers. And there is another point ... the Registered Keeper is responsible for all decriminalised or civil parking and moving contraventions. It is only speeding where the liability resides with the driver.
Just imagine the case of a Polish father being held responsible for the parking fines of his son who has the family car in the UK ... that would be a case that would most certainly end up in the European Court of Human Rights ... yet we tolerate it here.
Meanwhile, here is the story that will spark lots of similar Freedom of Information requests to councils ...
Foreign drivers avoid £130,000 in Lancashire parking fines
Lancashire Telegraph
2nd July 2008
By Tom Moseley

FOREIGN drivers have escaped without paying £130,000 in parking fines in Lancashire in four years.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show 2,250 tickets have been cancelled since 2004 because they were given to foreign vehicles.

Experts say there is no way of pursuing the fines, which “might as well be thrown in the bin”.
But bosses at Parkwise admit they have no idea how many tickets are still being given out to foreign cars.
Parking campaigner Neil Herron said: “There is no way to trace the vehicle’s owner.
" If you issue a ticket to a foreign-registered vehicle you might as well throw it in the bin, because it will have to be written off.
“They issue the ticket in the remote possibility that it will be paid.
"If it is not paid they need to send a notice to the owner - but that must be the person on the DVLA database.”

The Lancashire Telegraph asked Parkwise how many parking tickets relating to foreign drivers were currently unpaid - but were told this information was not recorded, because wardens could not always tell whether a car is from overseas.

However, the ‘foreign vehicle cancellation report’ showed hundreds of tickets were being written off each year.

Almost 6,000 parking tickets were listed as ‘outstanding’ in a recent audit of Parkwise, which controls parking enforcement throughout Lancashire except for Blackburn with Darwen.
The scheme, a partnership between district councils and County Hall, has been dogged by administration costs and it was recently revealed it cost as much as £60 to issue a ticket in each area.

The project is set to be abandoned in its current form when the current contract expires in September 2009.

Mr Herron added: “If they are inefficient working with the DVLA think how inefficient they will be with foreign authorities.
“It may well be that the best thing for them to do would be to ignore foreign drivers for administrative purposes.”

A Parkwise spokesman said: “Foreign vehicles which are issued with a penalty charge notice are treated in the same way as UK registered vehicles.
“Civil enforcement officers are required to issue a PCN to any vehicle parked in contravention regardless of where they are from.
Parkwise also follow the same statutory process and will enter into correspondence at foreign addresses when required.”

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

CCTV ... if you can't be trusted then take them down

Despite reassurances from Westminster and other councils they still cannot behave themselves with CCTV being used to spy in peoples' windows.
Not only are the cameras inadequately signed (why tell motorists that they could be captured on CCTV ... it would only reduce the revenue) thereby not providing any deterrent, it is now revealed that they are being used to look in windows.
Jamie Welham
West End Extra
27th June
Fury as council cameras are caught looking into private homeA CCTV camera set up to catch parking cheats has been caught snooping on a Bayswater bedroom. The West End Extra has seen video footage from one of Westminster Council’s spy cameras zooming into a luxury flat in Moscow Road.
The council had assured residents that the rotating street cameras, manned by operators in the council’s CCTV control centre in Lisson Grove, would automatically blur out when passing over residents’ rooms. But the video, released following a Freedom of Information request, shows they are not. More ...
Find out if your council is doing the same by submitting the following:
Dear Sir / Madam
Information Request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
Please provide a list of ALL the CCTV camera locations (used for moving traffic or parking contravention monitoring) across the borough and also provide the following:
(i) the type of equipment used (camera and recording device) in each instance
(ii) the date the camera was installed
(iii) whether each individual camera has been fitted with a privacy zone
(iv) details of whether the privacy zones are fitted to each camera as a matter of standard installation procedure and any protocols and guidelines for installation / use / monitoring of CCTV cameras.
Yours faithfully,

Blog Archive

only search Neil Herron Blog