Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wycombe District parking fines revealed

Bucks Free Press

MOTORISTS have been hit with more than £300,000 worth of fines in four months after Wycombe District Council took control of traffic wardens, it has been revealed.
The council has billed 5,223 drivers since taking over enforcement duties from the police in October, worth £338,410.
Of these just 3,434 tickets have been paid, worth £125,867.

Catherine Spaltion, press officer for the council said as most people paid the fines within 14 days – during a 50 per cent “discount period”. This means the fine actually paid often falls below the amount officially charged by the council.
The full value of each ticket is £50 or £70, depending on the offence.

The council said none of its officers worked on an incentive, commission or target led basis.
It said reasons for unpaid tickets could include a vehicle's owner not being traceable, a disabled driver having been verified, or a successful appeal against the ticket. Some cases may have gone to formal adjudication or even be at the court stage.

Wardens rake in £150,000 for council

This is South Wales

ALMOST £150,000 has been raised by parking fines in Swansea in just five months.
More than 7,000 motorists have received parking fines since the local authority took over responsibility for issuing tickets.

Between September 1 last year and January 31, the council has dished out hefty fines which have seen them cash in £147,919.

However, while the council is receiving money for each ticket issued, a council spokesman said the authority was only responding to people breaking the rules.
He said: "Since taking over civil parking enforcement responsibilities last year we issued 7,106 penalty charge notices because of people parking inconsiderately. If people don't park inconsiderately, they won't receive a penalty charge notice." and we'd be more than happy to issue no such notices."

The income that is generated from the fines is ring-fenced and put back into maintaining the civil parking enforcement service.
Any extra money left over will be ploughed into helping improve transportation services in the city, such as car parks and park and ride.

A council spokesman said: "Our main focus has always been to discourage people from parking inconsiderately and causing an obstruction to pedestrians and other road users and we've received a great deal of support from the public who have contacted us to ask for our civil parking enforcement officers to patrol their areas."

Depending on the severity of the parking offence, some of the tickets issued are £70 and others will be £50. If tickets are paid within 14 days, there is a 50 per cent discount.

But one motorist parking their car in Swansea on Saturday, who did not want to give their name, claimed the fines were just a money-making exercise. for the council.
"I can understand it when someone is parked dangerously on double yellows, but there is just nowhere to park for free anymore in Swansea, and if you need your car in work, you're forced to cough up huge sums every week or gamble on not getting a ticket."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Should a yellow line have a t-bar? Is the adjudication service independent?

Parking adjudicators will have you believe that the law doesn't concern itself with trifles BUT it isn't a trifle when you get walloped for a £120 fine.

However, there is a High Court case pending which could re-establish the rule of law and ensure that local authorities comply with the law. Adjudicators (funded by the local authorities who have repeatedly failed to comply with the law ... the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002) have seized on the phrase 'substantial compliance' with the interpretation that if a sign 'looks' like a sign (or line) then 'no reasonable motorist' could have been misled.

That is not how the law is written. TSRGD 2002 is explicit and sets out the dimensions (and permitted variants) for road traffic signs. Any deviations from prescribed signage requires Special Authorisation from the Secretary of State.

Don't take my word for it ...
Here is the British Parking Association's submission to the House of Commons Transport Committee:
30. Traffic and parking regulations are given effect by traffic signs and markings. In the UK signs are prescribed precisely in Traffic Signs Regulations and General Direction TSRGD (SI 2002/3113) and if a sign or marking does not comply with TSRGD then the regulation has no effect. We believe that it is important that, particularly for parking, where drivers are expected to comply with regulations, that the precision of signing is preserved and enforced. Where a driver is at risk of a financial penalty, or worse, signs cannot be "about right".

Not convinced?
Check out the statement of the DETR (now the Department for Transport) in relation to the requirement to have t-bars terminating double and single yellow lines reported by the BBC here:

One of the main problems, he claims, is when double yellow lines are painted without a T-bar finishing off the lines at each end.

The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) confirmed that with single or double yellow lines there must be a block painted at a 90-degree angle at the end of the lines.
A spokesman said: "If this end line isn't there then the lines have been laid out incorrectly by the local authority and you would have grounds to challenge the ticket in court."

In the above case North Yorkshire Police admitted:

We have been open and honest about this matter from the beginning and we have admitted we were in the wrong
North Yorkshire Police

One has to ask the question when was the law allowed to be 'dumbed down' and by whom?
Well, it seems to be that adjudicators are applying their own interpretation to the law (TSRGD 2002) ... and just remember that the adjudicators are appointed by the Joint Committee and are remunerated by the Joint Committee.

Who are the Joint Committee? The Joint Committee comprises of members from the councils participating in Civil Parking Enforcement.

To ensure that all the lines and signs comply with the law is an expensive business ... hence the reason for 'dumbing down.'
Apparent bias in the Judicial context. Lord Goff of Chieveley cited the dictum of Blackburn J in R and Rand (1866) LR 1 QB 230, 232:
“Any direct pecuniary interest, however small, in the subject of inquiry, does disqualify a person from acting as a judge in the matter.”

Once it is realised by the motoring public that the 'independent' adjudication services are remunerated on a per ticket basis (60p per PCN in the case of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal) then the more tickets issued the more money they receive.

Successful technical defences based on councils failure to comply with TSRGD 2002 reduce the amount of PCNs that can be issued and enforced.

Any rocket scientists care to comment?

Oh, the case of Glenn Dickinson v Hull City Council has been given leave for Judicial Review on the grounds that the Traffic Penalty Tribunal are not independent and signs must be as prescribed in law. Looks like Herron v The Parking Adjudicator (independence of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal and TSRGD points) and Pendle v The Parking Adjudicator (TSRGD points) are likely to follow the same route after being refused at written stage are now both moving towards an oral hearing.

In the meantime, anyone with a ticket on an incorrectly terminated yellow line or coming before the Traffic Penalty Tribunal and raising concerns over their independence can request that their case be 'stayed' sine die pending the outcome of Dickinson.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Driver wins £20,000 for stress over parking tickets

and sends bailiffs to collect his money!

Daily Mail
By Colin Fernandez

A motorist sued a council for £20,000 over the stress of receiving four parking tickets.
Zun Noon, who refused to pay the four £50 fines, claimed he suffered emotional distress after bailiffs were sent round to reclaim the money.
After a court found in his favour, Mr Noon gave the council a taste of its own medicine and sent his own bailiffs to its offices to collect his damages.

Mr Noon's battle against Newham Council in East London started in October 2007 when he was apparently captured by a council CCTV camera committing the parking offences.
Two more fines arrived the following month, as well as a fourth penalty which was a duplicate of a previous one and was later dropped.
Mr Noon, from Tower Hamlets, was so incensed he launched a counterclaim for emotional distress at Bow County court.
After Newham Council failed to attend the hearing the judge awarded him £20,000 - £5,000 for each ticket.
Bailiffs went to Newham's 'Parking Shop' in East Ham last November to present a 'notice of seizure' and began taking computers and putting them in a van. The council took 30 minutes before paying up.
Si-Ling Pang, a spokeswoman for Newham Council said: 'They were unplugging computers and taking them away. If they'd unplugged the server it would have cost us thousands of pounds worth of damage so we had to pay to stop it.'
The cost to taxpayers has since risen to £27,566.83 including a service charge and costs resulting from the time taken to settle the case.
The council, which says it never received a summons, has since taken the case back to Bow County Court, which ruled in its favour and ordered Mr Noon to repay the money.

City steps up parking fines... to balance the books

Balancing the books?
Thought it was about improving traffic flow and keeping the streets clear of congestion.

Sunderland Echo
By Ross Robertson
Drivers will face steeper fines if they are caught out by parking attendants.
Sunderland City Council is upping parking penalty charges from £60 and £40 to £70 and £50, bringing it in line with other towns and cities in the North East.

Council bosses say the move will prove an ever greater deterrent for parking pests as well as helping them balance the books.

The city's parking service costs £2.7million to run and produces a total income of £2.6million.

The new charges will bring in an extra £53,000 a year if a similar number of motorists are caught breaking parking rules.

The council was given two penalty charging options – Band 1 and Band 2 – when the new civil parking enforcement scheme was brought in last March.

It opted for Band 1, meaning motorists would either be fined £60 or £40, depending on how serious their parking offence was.

But after it was revealed that only a handful of other authorities in the country were operating on Band 1, senior councillors on the city's ruling cabinet have opted to switch to the higher band.Coun Jim Blackburn, responsible for transport and planning in the city, said: "All neighbouring authorities operate with Band 2 – and introducing the Band 2 charge will provide consistency.

"It will also help to make the service more financially sustainable."

Guidelines say it is sensible for councils to operate self-financing parking enforcement, but they should aim for motorists to have 100 per cent compliance with the rules – meaning no penalty charges are issued.

Coun Blackburn added: "It is anticipated that Band 2 charges will have a positive effect on the degree of compliance with parking and waiting restrictions."

Changing to Band 2 was also recommended by consultants RTA Associates, which carried out a review of civil parking enforcement in Sunderland.

The new charges will come into effect on March 16. Motorists will still get a 50 per cent discount if they pay within 14 days – but can expect a 50 per cent increase if they do not pay up on time.

Sunderland's parking enforcement regime has never been far from the headlines in recent years. An undercover investigation caught parking attendants making racist remarks and cracking jokes about disabled people. Private firm NCP was stripped of its contract to run the off-street parking enforcement regime in the wake of the damming BBC documentary.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Wayne Rooney escapes £60 parking fine

Click Liverpool
England footballer Wayne Rooney escaped a 60 pound parking fine after the manager at a hotel where he was staying stepped-in and got him off with it.

The superstar striker had taken his wife Coleen for a relaxing weekend at the Plush Vincent hotel in Southport as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
On Saturday night Wayne's silver Range Rover Sport was parked in a pay-and-display bay, but it didn't require a ticket from the machine as it was after 6pm.
Next morning his 80,000-pounds motor was still in the pay-and-display bay near the hotel but the Manchester United star did not get up in time to buy a ticket.

After noticing a traffic warden had started to write out a fixed penalty for the car the hotel front of house manager rushed out to plead Wayne's case.

After explaining who the car belonged to via radio to her senior officer Malcolm Ball, the blonde warden was then ordered to rip up the ticket and ignore the parking offence.

The attendant said: "The vehicle should have been issued with a penalty as it did not have a valid parking ticket.

"I was in the process of writing out the fine when I spoke to my boss and was ordered not to give one out."

One onlooker said: "Is it one rule for one and another for footballers?

"You would expect every driver to be treated the same but obviously not when it comes to Wayne Rooney.

"A £60 fine for a Premiership footballer is nothing. It knocks you sick.

"There is no way me or any other person would have been given such a let off. How can the council justify this?"

Hoping to cover his tracks Rooney had a mate shift the 80,000 silver sports car and replace it with his black BMW X5.

The couple checked out of the hotel this morning helped to their second vehicle by the hotel front of house manager Mr Ray Kaim Bacher who spoke to the attendant.

Mr Bacher, claims he did rush out to speak to the traffic attendant but says he would do it for most guests.

He said: "The car in question had been left in the space opposite the hotel by one of our valet parking.

"I walked and had a word with the traffic warden as the owners were getting ready to leave for the day and would only be a moment.

"We do that for most of our guests on a regular basis. It's just part of the service."

A spokesman for Sefton Council said: "We are in discussion with our parking contractor about what happened on this occasion.
"We have however, recently asked the contractor to be a bit more tolerant in this particular area as the parking restrictions are currently under review."

A spokeswoman from parking contractor Legion Group, confirmed it was one of their attendants involved but refused to comment any further.

Blackburn bar owner's bailiff 'nightmare'

The Citizen
By David Watkinson

A BAR boss has slammed “aggresive” bailiffs who have pursued him for three parking tickets — adding more than £1,000 in extra charges.
Ronnie Brown, 57, the owner of North Bar in Blackburn, said he and his wife Josephine, 56, had been treated “horrendously” by bailiffs from the Equita group.
In one letter he was warned that bailiffs will “remove property” from his home to “discharge” his debt.
The letter adds: “I will re-attend your address and may remove goods even in your absence.”
Mr Brown, of Kings Road, Blackburn, said: “I have been in the music business for years and had to deal with some unsavoury characters in my time but my experience with these bailiffs has been horrendous.
“We have been bullied and they have demanded exorbitant amounts of cash.”
Just last month the Lancashire Telegraph reported that pensioner Andy Miller suffered a fatal heart attack after being approached by a bailiff wanting to recover a speeding fine.

After receiving three parking tickets last year due to parking problems near the North Bar in Town Hall Street he attempted to appeal the fines.
But after the appeals were dismissed the council passed the fines, which had risen to £143 each, to the Equita agency.
When he was confronted by bailiffs each had risen to more than £366.
Mr Brown said: “I have paid the bills because the bailiffs were so forceful.
"I just wanted to get rid of them and get them away from my house.
"They sent letter after letter and confronted us face to face demanding the cash immediatly.
"I had no choice but to hand over a cheque.
“I was told that they would force entry to my house and take my property to the value of my debt.
“It was scary and has made my wife quite ill.”
He said he is now considering taking the bailiff firm to court to recover the “disproportionate” fine.
Blackburn with Darwen Council said that parking tickets that are not paid after repeated requests are passed to outside agencies for collection.
Bosses at Equita, the largest national private bailiff company in the UK, said they could not comment on Mr Brown’s case.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Nearly all speed cameras are illegal ...

With the Judicial Review on the illegality of decriminalised parking gathering pace another fightback by Britain's motorists is taking place. It is likely that hundreds if not thousands of motorists will ask to have their cases stayed pending the outcome of the case highlighted below.

Nearly all speed cameras in Britain are illegal following errors from every Home Secretary in the last 15 years, a court has heard.
By David Millward, Transport Editor 29 Jan 2009

Evidence was gathered illegally because 6,000 speed cameras were not given proper Parliamentary approval, it was claimed in a test case.

The action has been brought by a Aitken Brotherston, 61, a businessman from Lyme, Cheshire, who is appealing against a speeding conviction.

Michael Shrimpton, his counsel, told Manchester Crown Court that the case had wide-ranging implications.
It could mean that an estimated £600 million collected in fines and accompanying penalty points were invalid and trigger an avalanche of compensation claims from motorists.
Mr Shrimpton said a change in the 1988 Road Traffic Offenders Act in 1991 had not been properly implemented.

Until then the law that merely required the Home Secretary to approve the technical evaluation of the speed cameras. But since then additional Parliamentary approval has also been required for the devices.

Successive Home Secretaries, starting with Michael Howard in 1992, had failed to do so.
"But this was not done," Mr Shrimpton said. "It is an insult to Parliament in general that it had not identified a single device. This is a very important constitutional point.
"Since 1992 there have been hundreds of thousands of cases which we think are invalid.
"Speeding fines and convictions effect the very fabric of our society. Businesses and people's lives are severely affected when there is a ban from driving or fines.
"There are considerable economic considerations to take into account."

Mr Shrimpton added: "What the Department of Public Prosecutions is saying is that a Minister for example could decide to bring back hanging and he could do so without going to Parliament.
"He could draw up an order without Parliament seeing it and it would then become law."
Nearly 80 other cases are lined up behind Brotherston's which is likely to end up in the House of Lords.

The businessman, of was caught doing 52mph by a speed camera mounted in the back of a van in a 40mph zone.
He was photographed on the A5103 at 1pm on November 6 2006 while he drove his Y-reg Mitsubishi Gallant Estate out of the city centre.
Mr Brotherston received three points on his licence but he is adamant he was not speeding.
Guy Williams, the camera operator told the court: "That vehicle seemed to be driving in excess of 40mph. On seeing this I then aligned my crosshairs on the front of the car producing a reading of 52mph."
The case continues.

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