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 neil@parkingappeals.co.uk

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 parkingappeals.co.uk, 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 www.parkingappeals.co.uk , 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 ParkingAppeals.co.uk 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 http://www.parkingappeals.co.uk/ 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 appealnow.com, 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.

Blog Archive

only search Neil Herron Blog