Saturday, August 30, 2008

Council law-breaking a 'technical problem'

Motorists break the law and ignorance is no excuse.

Councils break the law and it is a 'technical problem.'

This is the most telling extract from the article ..."Claire Vranch, a spokesman for Ealing Council, said the markings on the road were consistent with other London Boroughs."

We will shortly be revealing the extent of the 33 London Borough's 'technical problems' but in the meantime Parking will show you how to spot an illegal bay and how to successfully appeal a ticket every time.

Council admits 'technical problem.'
29th August 2008
By Alex Hayes

A DOUBLE white line on the end of parking bays in the borough could lead to parking chaos.
Many residential bays are among those affected, meaning any tickets given to people parking there is effectively unenforceable.
The lines are on parking bays which have no individual bays marked inside them. Guidelines say these should be marked out by a single white line at either end, but in many cases workers have painted two.

Last month Ealing Council pulled out of an appeal hearing over a parking ticket because it acknowledged the bays the driver was parked in were improperly marked.

Nazma Begum, 21, was slapped with a parking ticket in Warwick Road, Ealing, last November when she bought a pay-and-display voucher but put her car in a residents bay accidentally while she went into Thames Valley University to hand in an assignment.

However, the Airline and Airport Management student came across the website and found the council’s marking mistake.

She said: “I didn’t realise I was parked in a residents’ parking bay and I couldn’t believe it when I came out and saw the ticket, as I had only been gone for a few moments.
“When I appealed to the council they refused it, so I took it to the parking adjudicator and the day before the hearing the
council wrote back to me saying they were pulling out and were sorry for any inconvenience.
“To be honest I think they knew all along they were wrong but they still pressed me for money. It seems like a deliberate tactic from them, and I want to know why they haven’t stopped enforcing these bays if they know they are wrong, it’s been a month now.
“If we do something wrong we are punished for it, but they do not want to take responsibility for their actions and will not admit they are wrong. It’s very unfair.”

The man who runs the Ticketfighter website, who does not want to be named as he is an industry insider, says Ealing Council should stop enforcing all wrongly marked bays until they are sorted out.

He said: “These bays should only have one line. The council has got it wrong and it means they are unenforceable.
“Motorists have to abide by the law and so have the council.
“They can’t just go around putting down whatever road markings they want to. If they know it is wrong and are still enforcing it that is obtaining money by deception and is completely illegal.”

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, the Labour transport spokesman, said he would be asking council officials what they intended to do about these parking problems. He said: “Now that this issue has been highlighted with the council, I want to know what action it will be taking to answer all its parking bays are properly marked.
“They will need to find out how many of these bays need repainting, otherwise the council opens itself up to further risk.”

Cllr Mahfouz also said unless the council acts fast to address the problem it risks allowing people to start parking in restricted bays and getting away with it.

Claire Vranch, a spokesman for Ealing Council, said the markings on the road were consistent with other London Boroughs.

She said: “Although we believe the bays in Warwick Road are marked clearly, we have reviewed this individual case and found there may be a technical problem with this particular bay, which we are investigating.”

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Crashed Ka gets a parking ticket ...

... and the stock answer is 'Well, you can always appeal.'

Crashed car gets £50 parking ticket
August 14, 2008

A stunned motorist was dealt a double blow when she found her parked car had been shunted into a tree – then given a £50 parking ticket.
Joanne Billington's Ford Ka was hit by another motorist, then slapped with a ticket by an overzealous warden.
'I was absolutely devastated,' said the 27-year-old. 'I just couldn't believe what had happened. It was obvious the car had been crashed into but I still got a fine. It's unbelievable that the attendant had the gall to issue one.'

Amazingly, despite the front end of the car being in the bushes, the traffic warden claimed he thought it had been parked that way.

'Nobody parks their car like that,' added Ms Billington, from Halifax.

An Oldham Council spokesman said the penalty had since been written off. 'At the time of the incident the attendant did not know that the vehicle had been forced out of the bay.'

It's a fine time for everyone ...except the motorist

The penny is starting to drop ... everyone connected with the 'parking industry' is financially dependent on the number of tickets issued.

Mike Waters writes below ...

AS if traffic wardens didn’t already have a bad enough reputation, you may have heard that the Department for Transport admitted that at least 80 councils in England and Wales had issued parking tickets that did not comply with regulations.
Motors Merseyside
Aug 11 2008
Mike Waters

This admission is untimely for the government having recently updated parking laws to make the ticketing system in England fairer.

The plan is that the changes will remove inconsistency and reduce confusion for motorists. This rebalancing has created two different levels of fine, with reduced punishment for lesser offences, so the fine for offences deemed as minor is falling, while punishment for major offences will increase.

The tickets in question were judged to be invalid because of incorrect road markings, poor signage and other similar issues. A particularly aggravating example involved tickets which were issued to cars which overran marked bays, despite these bays being too narrow.

Tickets were also issued without the correct documentation, or without a date of the claimed offence, which is contrary to guidelines. It is thought that many motorists may have already paid the fines unnecessarily, and many more may have the right to appeal tickets.

This enforces the point that although you should never park in restricted areas or for longer than they are allocated, parking adjudicators depend on a revenue stream from tickets so can not be relied on to be impartial. It is also telling that only a small number of people in England challenge fines, even when they have a strong case, and of those that do appeal the success rate is reasonably high.

With changes to the law and the increased use of CCTV enforcement, drivers will need to keep their wits about them to avoid legal fines, let alone bogus ones. Under the new system there is a real chance that drivers will be caught without even realising it, only to receive a ticket issued by post weeks after the incident.

Everyone makes mistakes, whatever line of work you operate in and traffic wardens are no different so the advice is, think carefully about where you park and do everything that you can not to get a ticket in the first place.

But if you do get caught and genuinely feel that the ticket is unjust don’t just write it off as you may have a compelling case for appeal.

Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval, Europe’s leading fleet and fuel management company.

Parking Enforcement ... Unchecked, unregulated and out of control

This lawless industry is escalating out of control with more and more people becoming victims.

No censure, no scrutiny and no accoutability ... yet people are being harassed and bullied into handing over cash. The politicians' heads are buried in the sand.

The excuse that it's only a parking fine is not good enough. As more and more people wake up to this 'industry' then the politicians will be forced to sit up and take notice.

Pensioner bullied for £500 by parking ticket bailiffs
15 August 2008
By Julia Taylor

A retired university professor was bullied into paying more than £500 by bailiffs for a parking fine he was not even responsible for.
Dr David Russell, 72, sold his ex-wife's car to a Kent dealer when they separated and she returned to Thailand last year. He went to Thailand with her temporarily, and returned in January to discover a raft of parking tickets had mounted up at his Chapel Park Road home, while he was away.

When he investigated, Dr Russell found that the new owner - a dealer from Beckenham in Kent - had been on a "parking spree" around London before the M-reg Mercedes was officially transferred into his name by the DVLA. Now the transfer of ownership is complete, Dr Russell has negotiated with all-but-one of the affected councils, explaining that he was not in the country at the time of the parking offences.

But Southwark council in South London did not back down, and sent the matter, and their lawyers, to court. Despite applying for the hearing to be stopped Dr Russell found himself faced with two burly bailiffs demanding £560 this week.

Dr Russell called police for advice, and when they arrived the bailliffs made a complaint of assault against him, even though he is a pensioner due for a heart operation anytime soon.

He said: "They were trying to take my property away for a parking charge, when I wasn't even in the country at the time of the offence. "They were threatening to take away my car, so I called the police. By that time the bailiff was sat on my windowsill and refused to budge, and I tried to close the window. I then found I'd been accused of criminal assault by one of these bailiffs. "But you should have seen the size of him. "In the end I paid them, because I didn't want them to break in."

A spokesman for Southwark Council said: "Southwark Council carried out two separate checks with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to confirm who was responsible for the vehicle on the date the ticket was issued. One of these checks took place after the previous owner advised us that he had sold the vehicle and was overseas when the ticket was issued. "On both occasions, DVLA information confirmed the sale of the vehicle after the ticket was issued. The Council doesn't hold driver registration information - it's sourced from the DVLA - and any discrepancies about this information need to be raised with the DVLA. A vehicle owner has a legal duty to notify the DVLA of any change of ownership."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hackney Council writes off £millions

However, the are still intent on spending thousands on lawyers to pursue market traders in a campaign of harassment.

Read this and then compare it with the Hackney Gazette report below ...

In Thames Magistrates Court yesterday market trader and 'Metric Martyr' Colin Hunt (left) faced the most bizarre of criminal charges. (What must be borne in mind, and must be placed in context, is that Colin Hunt, one of the original five Metric Martyrs, is the brother of Janet Devers, the 63 year old Hackney trader who currently faces charges by Hackney Council of selling goods by the pound ... the first such prosecution for 6 years).

The charges ... obstruction of the public highway by having his mango boxes 12" over the white line ... his pitch boundary.

What staggered the court was the fact that the council's evidence clearly showed people walking past the boxes. However, Colin produced damning evidence ... perhaps finally revealing the true agenda behind the Metric Martyr's prosecution ... two separate written statements from former Market Inspectors claiming that their bosses had been conducting a deliberate campaign against the market trader, currently on sticks at work recovering from a hip operation.

The Magistrates immediately adjourned the case and the witnesses have been requested to appear in court to give evidence.

Perhaps now, finally the truth will out.


Hackney Gazette
07 August 2008

A Gazette investigation has uncovered millions of pounds of taxpayer's money written off by Hackney Council. Almost £40million of debt went uncollected in the last financial year, an audit of the town hall books revealed.
Opposition councillors and campaigners slammed the council for its inefficiency and unfairness.

Parking fines accounted for more than half the £38million of debts Town Hall officials wrote off in the last financial year. An audit of the town hall books found council's parking officials failed to collect more than £21million in parking fines. Mark Wallace, campaign director at public spending watchdog, Taxpayers Alliance, said it seemed that the council was using the parking fines to make money off people who would pay the first time of asking but let those who didn't get away with it.

He said: "I think this has become a total farce. It makes a mockery of the law."

Most of the cash was lost through parking tickets expiring and errors when issuing the tickets.The council also pays Central Parking System (CPS) almost £3million per year to give out parking tickets. No provision is made in its contract with CPS to be fined for mistakes made when issuing tickets and the company receives thousands of pounds in bonuses for meeting its targets.
Council tax was the next sizeable chunk written off with more than £6.7million in debt not collected, nearly double the amount written off in the previous year. The council said that this was due to the debts being irretrievable as they were more than six years old, the amount owed was so small it would be uneconomical to collect or the person had died.
A similar explanation was given for the £6.5million outstanding in rent arrears on council properties. The failure to collect council tax and rent arrears, Mr Wallace added, sent a message that people didn't have to pay it.

But while the council were writing off millions of pounds they were also spending significant amounts as well. The Gazette ploughed through the council's finances after they were made public at the end of last month. More than £42million was spent on agency staff by the council in 2007/08, £11million more than neighbours Tower Hamlets. On top of this, nearly £3million more was paid to consultants.
Mr Wallace also slammed the council splashing out £545,000 to produce and distribute its newsheet Hackney Today. "It is utterly outrageous that the money paid by hard working taxpayers is being squandered on council propaganda that hardly anyone reads." If they want to publicise themselves, they should do a good job.

Parking Enforcement ... It's about making money according to Council's Deputy Leader

So its not really about keeping the traffic flowing and the streets clear really ... is it Councillor ?

£10,000 a week in parking fines.... but it's still not enough, says council
11 August 2008
By Michael Peel
Halifax Courier

DRIVERS have forked out more than £10,000 a week to Calderdale Council in parking fines.
The figures for the council's first full year in charge of parking show it netted £556,000 in fines for 2007/8 – and a total of £2.8 million in income and fines.

But deputy council leader Stephen Baines said the authority should be making even more money from parking fines.

Mr Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) said: "We are unable to recruit all the officers we need to enforce regulations, which means we are not raising all the income we should from fines."

He added: "We could issue tickets outside every school if we had the staff to do it."

The council is hoping to privatise the jobs of 21 parking wardens in a bid to deal with the recruitment problem. The latest report shows that although one in seven parking contravention notices was either cancelled or written off, it still left 15,000 drivers each with a bill of between £30 and £60.

The council took over responsibility for parking from the police in November 2006. And it has now begun a huge review of parking spaces, fees and enforcement – expected to take a year to complete and cost £40,000. The review will look at the way charges are fixed, how they are enforced and whether parking fees should be the same in all towns.Charges for residents' permits, park-and-ride schemes, the availability of car parks and whether they should be privatised will all be discussed by the parking review working party.

Public consultation is expected to take place next year. The council's mid-term financial strategy indicates "an above-inflation incre-ase in parking income" to raise at least £200,000 extra in 2009/10.
It also expects to raise an additional £50,000 from parking fines but Mr Baines said there would be no increases before the outcome of the review. A number of wardens' jobs were left unfilled last year to try to make ends meet but the parking budget still ended the year £120,000 in the red.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

More refunds ... more excuses

Another council another 'inexplicable' error. Who will be the next to confess?

As more and more councils start to realise that this outrageous abuse of power is being scrutinised now from all angles, civil parking enforcement is being brought into national disrepute.

There are going to be no excuses and no hiding places for those who have been fully aware that THEIR actions have exposed others to a risk of loss ... and therefore an offence under the 2006 Fraud Act.

It is only a matter of time before this episode of disgraceful behaviour by councils and council officials is aired before a court of law. I understand that many Parking Services Managers are now being called to account for their actions and being asked to 'confess' any wrongdoing, potential errors that may affect the council and their fellow officers. The Chief Executives, Heads of Legal Departments, Treasurers and Heads of Services are all likely to be implicated and afected by the fall-out ... for failure to exercise due diligence in ensuring not only that the actions of their council were lawful, but also that the monies unlawfully derived were refunded.

The next year is likely to be very interesting indeed, especially in light of pending legal matters.

Council owes £8k in wrong fines

The council has known about the mistake since 2003

Council officials forgot to paint double yellow lines on a side street in Bristol but still handed out fines to motorists who parked in the area.

The lines should have been painted in a street in Kingsdown five years ago but never were. Dozens of drivers who unwittingly parked there were fined.

The city council is now trying to trace 70 drivers to repay a total of £8,000 in parking fines and tow-away fees.

The lines have now been painted in as it is illegal to park in the area.

David Bishop, of Bristol City Council, said: "In 2003 a parking adjudicator told the council that we should make changes to the yellow lines and the enforcement in this area of Montague Hill South and allow some appeals against parking tickets.

"At the time she said the yellow lines were misleading and we shouldn't be enforcing.

"We took the steps necessary to put things straight except for redoing the yellow lines which is an inexplicable error."

Monday, August 04, 2008

Are you listening Rosie? ... Lord Lucas 'accuses' Camden of theft

30th July, 2008.

Rt. Honourable Rosie Winterton
House of Commons
T: 0207 219 0925
F: 0207 219 2811

Dear Minister,

Para 8.35 of the “Operational Guidance to Local Authorities: Parking Policy and Enforcement”, March 2008 states
“Authorities should not issue PCNs when traffic signs or road markings are incorrect, missing or not in accordance with the TRO. These circumstances may make the Order unenforceable. If a representation against a PCN shows that a traffic sign or road marking was defective, the authority should accept the representation because the adjudicator is likely to uphold any appeal. An enforcement authority may be acting unlawfully and may damage its reputation if it continues to issue PCNs that it knows to be unenforceable”.

I attach extracts from correspondence from the London Borough of Camden. In the first letter of 26 June the council admits that many of its lines are not compliant with TSRGD 2002.

In his letter of 8 July Mr. Henney asks whether the council intends to stop enforcement. In response the council says it is continuing enforcement, but will consider representations. Now it knows as well as we – and I am sure you and your officials – that a negligible number of motorists are aware of the existence of (let alone the contents of) TRSGD 2002 and the finer points of road markings. Effectively the council intends to continue knowingly collecting money from non-compliant bays, which would in almost any other context be thought of as theft (imagine if an energy company was imposing a surcharge on customers that it knew it did not have the legal right to do!).

Is there anything that you can do to return this (and many other) councils to honest ways?

Yours sincerely,

Lucas of Dingwall and Crudwell
Chairman, London Motorists Action Group and you will find the legal defence tp appeal Camden's illegal tickets.

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