Friday, September 02, 2011

Pay close attention to the increase in parking news stories from the South West

A little bird tells me that we all should watch this space.
Robin B'stard (left)

Exeter Express and Echo
Thursday, September 01, 2011
The parking fines fiasco that drove motorists crazy

WHEN Chris Bragg received a parking fine for stopping in a loading bay he was incensed.
The 63-year-old had not seen a small sign attached to a building site hoarding which warned drivers that they should not stop in the bay – which was unmarked on the road.

Campaigner: Chris Bragg in Market Street,
Crediton where he received a parking fine
Mr Bragg, who runs a garage business in Crediton, where he received the fixed penalty notice, was convinced the signage was insufficient and appealed against the fine.
His appeal was rejected and the Copplestone resident reluctantly parted with £105.

But with the cheque he handed over Mr Bragg included a strongly worded letter, accusing Devon County Council and Mid Devon District Council of breaking the law in accepting the money.
Devon County Council spent several months defending its right to issue fines in the street before it emerged that parking officials had raised many concerns about the markings in the town square.

The county authority eventually admitted the markings on the "dual use" bay, which is a loading area in the morning and a restricted parking zone in the afternoon, had never been properly authorised by the Department of Transport.

The council apologised for the mistake, and the case opened the floodgates for motorists fined for parking there.
Between his unsuccessful appeal and paying the fine Mr Bragg had made contact with a small band of campaigners who have spent many hours researching and pointing out flaws in Devon County Council's enforcement of parking.

These individuals, two of whom are former policemen, say the Crediton case is just the tip of the iceberg, and the county council will be forced to refund more cash.
Some might accuse this group of trying to find technical ways of getting around legitimate fines, an allegation they would refute.

Peter Harry, from Dawlish, began investigating parking issues after a council official falsified documents to make it appear his car was illegally parked in Exeter.
The 68-year-old, who helped Mr Bragg with his fight against the fine, said the campaign was more about righting injustice and holding officials responsible for mistakes which have been made.
"Using the Freedom of Information Act we were able to show that Mid Devon District Council knew that it should not be enforcing restrictions in Market Street, but it continued handing out fixed penalty notices," he said.
"The markings had not been authorised and were unclear. The councils continued to take people's money, not out of malice but because of incompetence."

Mike Thompson, the former Mayor of Cullompton and an ex-police officer, is also working to expose areas where parking regulations have not been properly set up.
The Freedom of Information Act has proved invaluable to the group, which has used it to obtain internal council emails that have exposed mistakes made.
"We are just looking at some of the irregularities and we have found a massive amount of evidence," said Mr Thompson.
"The councils look at fixed penalty notices as a revenue stream but they do not realise the pain and anguish that these cause.
"I have spoken to pensioners who are genuinely worried when they receive a parking ticket. They have to weigh up whether it is worth appealing and risk the fine amount doubling.
"It is a scandal that the councils are not taking every measure possible to ensure the markings are approved and enforceable."

Devon County Council estimates it collected around £6,000 in unlawful fines in Crediton's Market Street. In another twist to the saga, this week it was forced to change the terms of its refund policy.
The council had given those fined 28 days to apply for a refund from the date of a public notice which it issued in May.
Mr Harry question why, when for years it had collected fines illegally, the authority had given them less than a month to apply to get their money back. There is now an open-ended refund policy in place.

A spokesman for the county council said: "In issuing the notice we took advice from a barrister, which was that 28 days was an appropriate period.
"Whilst that period has now elapsed, in good faith, we are continuing to assess any request for refund on its merit and where it is the case that the penalty charge notice was issued in error a refund is provided."
He was not available to comment on whether the council was reviewing the legality of road markings elsewhere in the county.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This is only the beginning ...

Private land parking disputes are set to become the big issue over the next 18 months and 2012 will be the year it all comes to a head...

It doesn't take a Mayan Prophecy to work that one out as clamping is banned and the Protection FROM Freedom Bill works its way through Parliament shifting liability for 'breaches of contract' to a third party and allowing private ticketers to pursue the Registered Keeper using 'purchased' information from the DVLA.
You have been warned.

Express and Echo
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Calls for action over 'harsh' parking firm

ANGRY motorists are demanding action from the private parking regulator after claiming they were treated harshly by an enforcement firm in the city.
The Echo has highlighted a string of recent complaints about parking firm PPS.

ANGRY: Victoria Davison has complained after being given a parking ticket
at Exeter Central Station

Motorists have expressed concern about the way they have been treated at Exeter's Central Station and other privately owned city centre car parks.
Now two more drivers have contacted the Echo claiming they should not have been given tickets by Premier Parking Solutions, based in Newton Abbot.

Both have contacted the British Parking Association (BPA) – a trade body which regulates firms. They are calling for it to cancel membership for PPS.

Schoolteacher Chris Charlwood, 50, from Cheriton Fitzpaine, was given a £75 fine at Exeter Central Station after PPS claimed his ticket was not visible enough.
The deputy headteacher said: "I was given a fine despite my parking ticket being displayed," he said.
"But because it was in a recess on my dashboard common on some Peugeot cars the parking operative did not see it.
"Nowhere is the motorist specifically directed to a designated display position within their vehicle where the ticket must be displayed. I have complained to the BPA in the strongest terms about the Draconian and unaccountable manner in which this firm appear to manage their parking operations."

Victoria Davison, from Bradninch, was also given a £75 fine after parking at Central Station. She has also complained to the BPA.
She said her ticket was also on display, but facing downwards. "I have written to PPS about the fine," she said.
"But they have threatened to place it in the hands of a debt collector if it is not paid.
"I'm not paying it because my parking ticket was valid. I've complained to the BPA," she said.

The latest complaints come after the Echo featured a story about a patient fined by a different company at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital when her treatment overran. Her appeal was rejected.

A BPA spokeswoman said complaints would be investigated.
She said: "We urge those who feel that they have been treated unfairly to contact us with full details.
"The BPA investigates all complaints made against members of its Approved Operator Scheme and disciplinary action is taken against any operator who is found to be in breach of the code of practice." Earlier this year PPS was ordered by Network Rail, which owns the car park in front of Central Station, to be more lenient towards drivers.
It followed complaints made by city MP Ben Bradshaw following a spate of enforcement tickets issued to drivers.
In one case a driver from Exeter was given a parking charge within a minute of pulling on to the station car park.

Despite being contacted by the Echo, nobody was available for comment from PPS.
If you feel you have been harshly penalised by a parking firm contact the Echo newsdesk on 01392 442239.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Police ‘help bailiffs to seize cars over unpaid parking fines’

The Times
August 27th 2011
Mark Atherton
Police ‘help bailiffs to seize cars over unpaid parking fines’

(Rock music fans at the Reading Festival yesterday. Police forces earned almost £8 million in the past year providing security for events such as
music festivals)

The police have been accused of acting beyond their authority by helping bailiffs to collect disputed parking fines.

An investigation by The Times has discovered that forces across the UK, including the Metropolitan and Kent Police, have been regularly assisting bailiffs to seize the cars of motorists with outstanding penalties, even though campaigners say they do not have the legal authority because parking enforcement in most parts of the UK is a civil, not criminal matter.

In one case, the police helped Newlyn, a bailiff company that has been accused of adding extra costs to debts, cutting corners and aggressively chasing people for money that they say they do not owe. The Times has obtained video evidence of how the police confiscated the car keys of one driver and handed them to Newlyn even though the bailiff provided documentation of disputed authenticity and the driver denied that he owed any money.

In 2009 a district judge branded a director of Newlyn a liar in a hearing about the renewal of a bailiff’s licence. The driver who had his car confiscated has since taken his case to the Police Complaints Authority.

The law states that the police should assist bailiffs only if there is likely to be a breach of the peace, but officers appear to be routinely going on joint operations to stop motorists.
Ron Clark, of, a website that champions the cause of motorists, said: “The permission to engage in such activity was removed by the Enforcement of Road Traffic Debts Order of 1993. Police should no more be assisting bailiffs to chase up parking contraventions than they should be assisting utility companies in securing payment of their energy bills.”

Barrie Segal, of, which helps people fight unfair parking penalties, said: “Shouldn’t the police be concentrating on chasing people who break the criminal law? I’m all for police stopping motorists where they suspect a crime has occurred. I just don’t think they should team up with bailiffs because it misleads the public into thinking that bailiffs have greater powers than they do.”
Legal experts consulted by The Times said the police could be acting beyond their authority.

District Judge Stephen Gerlis, of Barnet County Court, said: “I am not aware of any protocol or authority that provides for the police to be involved in the enforcement of civil debts, unless there is a suggestion that a criminal offence may be committed.”

The joint operations came to light after The Times obtained a transcript of a court hearing about a bailiff’s licence renewal. In this hearing, Leonard Brailey, an employee of Marston’s, a leading bailiff company, admitted that the police had for the past seven years been assisting his company with roadside stopping operations in Kent and other areas on the outskirts of London. In the past six months, he had taken part in six to ten operations, he said.
He explained that police would flag down oncoming cars for a roadside check. Then, after completing the check, they would say to the motorist: “Here is a bailiff. He is going to carry out checks as well.” Mr Brailey agreed that the impression given was that this was some lawful stopping to which the motorist had no right to object.

Kent Police confirmed it had conducted roadside police operations with bailiffs. The Metropolitan Police said it also carried out roadside stop operations with bailiffs “on rare occasions”. Both forces said they were satisfied that their operations were legal.

According to Mr Brailey, after being introduced by the police, the bailiff phones his office to check whether there are any outstanding warrants for unpaid fines relating to the vehicle. But Mr Clark said: “The bailiff’s van is equipped with Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology and a database of vehicles on which there are outstanding parking contraventions. These are the vehicles the police stop.”

Malcolm Hurlston, of Credit Action, the national financial education charity, said: “The proposals for regulating bailiffs are already months overdue. The whole area of bailiff activity is confusing and complicated and urgently needs regulation.”
The Ministry of Justice said: “The majority of bailiffs are responsible, but too many are not and this cannot continue. We will publish our consultation as soon as we have exhausted our exploration of all the issues.”
Newlyn refused to comment but has previously denied any wrongdoing and has said that its director’s incorrect statement in court was “merely an administrative error”.

Local Government Ombudsman now becoming involved in parking issues

The intervention of the LGO in 'parking' related matters is quite timely and necessary. It is quite clear that there is serious maladministration involving processes and systems in many councils but quite clear that there is no power for the adjudication service to investigate or censure and, up until now, the LGO has been reluctant to become involved. However, the sands are shifting and it is clear that systemic failings and maladministration are now likely to be investigated especially where such maladministration has the potential to impact nationally.

Ombudsman criticises Bexley Council over parking fine
Date Published: 26/07/11

Bexley Council’s rigid following of procedure and failure to update its address records meant that a woman suffered bailiff action unnecessarily for a parking fine.

Bexley Council’s rigid following of procedure and failure to update its address records meant that a woman suffered bailiff action unnecessarily for a parking fine, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin. In her report, issued today, she says that, as a result, the woman ended up paying £629.95 to clear the debt, instead of the £150 for which she was liable.

She says: “I consider that had the Council considered its discretion during the recovery process it would have responded to [the woman] at the correct address and she would have paid the appropriate fine. So the debt would not have been referred to the bailiff and the bailiff’s costs would not have been incurred.”

A resident complained that the Council pursued her at an old address for a penalty charge notice (PCN) of £100. She had not updated the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency of her new address and did not have a mail forwarding service in place. As a result, she became aware of the parking fine on collection of post from her old address, which included the PCN and charge certificate advising the fine had increased to £150. She wrote to the Council to advise of her new address and requested to pay the reduced fine of £50 as she had missed the opportunity. The Council did not respond to the letter. The Council pursued the debt to bailiff action unknown to the woman as correspondence was directed to her old address; six months after her letter she made a payment of £629.95 to the bailiffs to clear the debt. The complainant believes the Council should have responded to her correspondence at the address she supplied, so that the bailiff action could have been avoided.

The Ombudsman considers that whilst the Council followed the correct recovery process, it at no time considered its discretion. It did not consider correspondence which the complainant sent in; failed to update her address and so continued to send all correspondence to an old address where she no longer resided. As a result she did not receive relevant documents, and was not aware of the actions being taken against her. The Council rigidly followed its automated process, did not consider the individual circumstances or the use of its discretion.

The Ombudsman considers that, had such failings not occurred, the complainant would have paid the £150 fine for which she was liable, because at no time did she seek to evade payment of the debt. She lost the opportunity to pay the original fine or the reduced amount due to her own initial failings. But had the Council used its available discretion it would have recognised her change of address and properly explained the position to her regarding the ongoing debt recovery action. She would not then have faced unexpected and avoidable bailiff action.

The Ombudsman recommends that the Council:

pays the complainant £479.95, being the difference between the £629.95 paid and the £150 she could have paid had the Council not fettered its discretion by its rigid procedures, and
undertakes a review of its automated PCN recovery procedure, ensuring that correspondence is considered even if received outside the statutory notification period to ensure it considers its discretion based on the individual circumstances of each case.
The real names of people in this report are not given for legal reasons.

Report ref no 10 009 251

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Not So Smart Car Refunds reported in today's Sunday Mirror

This story is set to grow and grow as more councils are added to the list of uncertificated Smartcars.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Motorists could get CCTV fines refunded

Predicted on this blog sometime ago and now it seems that the Local Government Ombudsman is set to intervene so that councils will be forced to refund £millions of unlawfully derived income.

Parking and bus lane fines worth millions of pounds could have to be refunded by councils using mobile CCTV vans.

The use of tickets-by-post from CCTV camera cars was permitted by the Traffic Management Act, which came into force in March 2008 Photo: Heathcliff O'malley

By David Millward, Transport Editor
17 Aug 2011

As many as 24 local authorities face potential claims from motorists after a successful challenge to a ticket by a driver in Richmond-upon-Thames, west London.

Nigel Wise contested a ticket issued by a mobile unit claiming that the device had not been formally approved by the Department for Transport.

His appeal was upheld by the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service and the council also agreed to pay Mr Wise £50 costs.

Richmond Council alone estimates that its liability could be as high as £1.05 million if it refunds an estimated 20,000 parking tickets issued between 2009 and 2011.

Proposals to refund the money, drawn up by Lord True, Richmond’s leader, will be considered by the council next month.

But in its own trade journal, Parking News, the industry estimates that as many as 24 councils could find themselves in the same position as Richmond.

The mobile CCTV units which use cameras fitted to a periscope are normally found on Smart cars.

They have been commonplace in London for several years and their use has spread to the provinces following a change in the law in 2008.

Councils using the units, whose fine have been subject to appeal, include Medway, Wirral, Bournemouth, Basildon, Plymouth, and Bolton.

Other authorities could find their parking fines challenged unless they can show that the complied with the small print of the Traffic Management Act 2008, which requires formal approval before the mobile cameras are allowed on the streets.

In particular they should check the paperwork sent by the Government’s Vehicle Certification Agency, which was found to be defective in the Richmond case.

Many motorists have been incensed by the cameras especially when they see the units brazenly parked on double yellow lines.

In her latest report, published earlier in the summer, Caroline Sheppard, the chief traffic adjudicator outside London, said councils should make sure the mobile units complied with the law.

This followed complaints about the quality of evidence provided by the mobile units which was often found to be unclear.

There had also been allegations by motoring groups that the mobile units were being used for “fine harvesting.”

In her report Mrs Sheppard said that the mobile cameras should only be used with “fairness and integrity.”

“The dash for cash through the sheer number of PCN’s which CCTV can dish out has clearly caught out some local authorities and deservedly so,” said Paul Watters of the AA.

They are quick enough to chastise drivers for minor parking bloomers yet think they can get away with wholesale rule breaking.

“In 2008 we were promised a fairer enforcement system for all but despite efforts to bring this about even that new guidance was not adhered to – its is tough for local authorities to repay large sums when budgets are being cut but it is a lesson that should be learned given the fact something like 10m penalty charge notices are issued every year”.

Monday, July 11, 2011

London Borough of Richmond ... CCTV Smartcar Refunds

Let us not forget that the revenue derived by Richmond Council is UNLAWFUL income to which they are not entitled. Whilst their admission that their vehicles were incorrectly certified and refunds must be made requires praise along with some very laudible statements in their press release which I hope will serve as a reminder to other authorities that they are not above the law.

It is a requirement that they keep details of every financial transaction and therefore there should be no problem whatsoever contact everyone who has paid to advise them of the situation ... thus allowing them an opportunity 'to appeal' as Richmond claim their legal advice requires. That way they will not need to expend vast sums of money on press and media advertising.

Some cynics would perhaps suggest that a few adverts will result in significantly fewer refunds. I would like to believe that Richmond's intentions are honourable and an example that many others will be forced to follow in the coming months.


Appeals for fines issued by camera cars (from March 2009 until April 2011)
At a Cabinet meeting on the 21 July, members will discuss a recommendation that Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) issued by the Council’s mobile camera cars from March 2009 until April 2011 are refunded. This is due to the cars being incorrectly certified during this time.

The PCNs issued fall outside the usual 28 day appeal period. Legal advice to the Council is that there is no need to repay parking charges outside the appeal period. However, as motorists had no way of knowing the charges were incorrectly levied, the Cabinet, in accordance with its Fair Parking policies, is being recommended to allow a special 3-month appeal period to enable motorists caught by the camera cars to request a refund. Appeals made on this basis would automatically be allowed. Unclaimed funds would be reinvested in parking, highway and footpath related schemes.

If the Cabinet Meeting approves this approach the Council will launch an extensive advertising campaign to contact motorists, letting them know how they can apply for a refund and what the precise starting point for the three month appeal window is. This process will not be in place until the Cabinet decision has been taken, so motorists are urged to wait before they contact the Council.

Adverts will be placed in the local newspapers and on the Council website after the likely Cabinet approval.

Please monitor the local media following the Cabinet Meeting on 21 July for further information on how to apply. In addition, please note that only Parking Charge Notices issued by the mobile camera cars and during the above dates will be entitled to a refund.

For more information see our recent press release

Thursday, June 30, 2011

CCTV Smartcar enforcement blunder ... voluntary restitution?

After recent successes at PATAS regarding uncertificated CCTV Smartcars the pressure is mounting on councils to volunteer refunds or face investigation by the District Auditor and other agencies, especially if it becomes apparent that enforcement continued in the full knowledge of non-compliance.

Lord Lucas (Conservative)

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to take action to ensure that enforcing authorities abide by the statutory prohibition on penalty demands being issued in furtherance of civil parking and traffic enforcement by means of closed circuit television apparatus (CCTV) which has not been certified by the Secretary of State as an Authorised Device; and what action they will take to ensure the refunding of penalties unlawfully taken from motorists due to the use of CCTV apparatus that was not an Authorised Device.
• Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 28 June 2011, c413W)

Earl Attlee (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)
Where a Local Authority imposes a penalty charge using a system of cameras, it must have been certified as an approved device by the Secretary of State. We are satisfied that the civil enforcement regime for the use of CCTV set out in legislation is clear and understood by relevant local authorities. It is for those authorities to comply with legislative requirements and we have no plans to take any further action to ensure that they are doing so.
If a local authority has imposed a penalty notice and has subsequently realised that the proper legal basis for the imposition of that penalty notice may not have been in place, then it will be open to that authority to consider whether it is appropriate to make a refund.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The implications of this ICO decision will send shockwaves around many councils ...

Mark my words ... this decision will unleash a whole host of Freedom of Information requests from individuals and groups across the country.

Excellent work by John Greenwood.

Consider it a rumbling of thunder in the distance at the minute ...

An end to ‘status quo of secrecy’ at Bolton Council?
The Bolton News
Sunday 19th June 2011

THE outside business dealings of senior town hall staff could soon be made public after Bolton Council was issued a High Court threat by the country’s information boss.

The threat comes after transparency campaigner John Greenwood asked for details held on the council’s register of interests in a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

When the council refused, Mr Greenwood, from Breightmet, reported the council to the government’s Information Commissioner.

Your Vote
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The commissioner has now ruled that the details of the register of interests should be released. The register records the name of council officers and any personal interests they have, such as ownership of property, family associations, business interests, shareholdings and membership of organisations that may conflict with their decision-making role.

Mr Greenwood said: “This is a major victory for the public and those wanting open, transparent governance over Bolton Council who sought to keep the status quo of secrecy.”

As part of the decision notice issued to Bolton Council, the commissioner acknowledged that releasing some of this information would intrude into their private lives and may cause them distress.

He also found, however, there was a case for disclosing it in the public interest because the officers are responsible for decisions that affect the local community and involve spending public money.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has also released guidance that could open the floodgates for similar requests to other authorities across the country.

Bolton Council has been given 35 days to release the information or risk being reported to the High Court.

A spokesman for the authority said the council is seeking advice with a view to appealing the matter.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Are you appealing enough? Careful where you Parke!

Not a question to decide whether you appealing or attractive to the opposite sex but a question as to why more people don't challenge their PCN.
Real reason is that having a 50% discount for early capitulation levelled at your head makes most people think that it's not worth the fight no matter how unjust or unfair the PCN is.

However, your chances of success are quite high and don't always take it for granted that the council will win should you fight all the way to adjudication. It is sometimes the underdog who causes the upset!

Drivers Told To Fight Unfair Parking Tickets
Friday June 03, 2011
Lulu Sinclair, Sky News Online

Motorists are being urged to consider contesting car parking tickets if they think they have been given one unfairly.

Fewer than 1% of drivers took issue with their fines in 2009/10 out of a total of almost 4.25 million tickets, according to the chief adjudicator of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.

But of those who did, just under 60% won their case, Caroline Sheppard revealed.

She is head of a team of 24 lawyers who rule on appeals from dissatisfied drivers within the 250 or so councils in England and Wales which are responsible for parking tickets.

The adjudicator makes her plea in a new report which says councils on the whole are issuing slightly fewer tickets than before.

"Parking tickets are a strong source of revenue for councils "

"The aim of the tribunal is to provide an easy, convenient, fair and informal service for motorists," Ms Sheppard said.

"We believe it is important for people to understand better the rules and regulations, for councils to exercise discretion in cases where it is due, and finally, for people to know that they have the right to appeal to an independent adjudicator if they want to continue to challenge a penalty after the council has rejected their case."

A spokeswoman for the tribunal chief said she was keen to let people know there was an appeal system, if they thought they were being unjustly treated.

"This is open and accessible to motorists who think they have a case and we want to make sure people know about it."

Another source of irritation among drivers is the private parking system where parking fines are disproportionate to the "crime", and the chief adjudicator is calling for an independent ombudsman to be set up, to allow rights of appeal to drivers.

Take Parking Tickets To The Tribunal
The Traffic Penalty Tribunal deals with the final stage of the appeals process.

You can appeal to it if:

:: You have been issued with a Penalty Charge Notice by a council.

:: You have already made a formal appeal in writing to the council.

:: The council rejected your appeal and sent you a Notice of Appeal form.

:: You then have 28 days to appeal to the tribunal.

Source: Traffic Penalty Tribunal

Neil Herron, the former metric martyr turned campaigner for fairer parking, is pleased motorists are being made more aware of what they can do but warns it is a Catch 22 situation.

"The more people know about methods of complaint, the more they will use them and the more overloaded the system will eventually become."

He remains sceptical that councils use parking restrictions as a way of managing traffic, arguing that they are a growing source of revenue, particularly when central funding to councils is being cut back.

"Councils rely on people just paying up," Mr Herron told Sky News Online.

"You usually have the incentive of 'half-price' fines for 14 days so you're taking a risk if you decide to appeal. If you lose, you'll have to pay double right away.

"But remember, your chances of success are greatly approved once you get into the formal legal process, so don't be put off.

"The rules are built on unstable foundations. If you feel that your ticket has been unfairly or unjustly issued, then fight it. You stand a good chance of winning!"

Sunday, May 29, 2011

If there are so many drivers failing to heed the signs then those in charge of traffic management should be replaced by engineers who will come up with a more effective solution to manage traffic and get drivers to comply ... but that would cause the cash to dry up!
I am sure that this is just the beginning of the Grafton Road story ;-)

Revealed: The £5m raised by one camera on Britain’s most baffling road
By Andrew Buckwell
Mail on Sunday
29th May 2011

Motorists have been fined a staggering £5 million for driving down a quiet residential street which has been dubbed ‘Britain’s most baffling road’.
More than 41,000 drivers have been hit with penalties after a council erected nine signs that confuse everyone who enters the road, and a CCTV camera.

Most confusing is the rule that bans motorists from driving one way down the street in the morning and then from going in the opposite direction in the afternoon.

Last night campaigners accused the Labour-controlled Camden Council in North London of using motorists as a ‘cash cow’ to help boost Town Hall coffers.
Paul Pearson, a parking campaigner who runs the Penalty Charge Notice website, said: ‘It’s absolutely staggering. This is highway robbery. It’s one of most profitable cameras in the country – and it’s in a residential street.

‘This is a clear case of using cameras to raise revenue for a cash-strapped Town Hall.’

Until five years ago, access to Grafton Road in Kentish Town was restricted by a hydraulic bollard and a set of traffic lights that showed either red or green, depending on the position of the bollard.
Then, in 2006, the council lowered the bollard and introduced signs and a camera to capture breaches.
Drivers are now confronted with nine signs, the set of defunct traffic lights and the sunken bollard.

Confusing: Camden Council has been raking it in thanks to these baffling signs
The mouth of the road has been divided into three sections with a
central section blocked off and accessible only by emergency vehicles, with lanes for cars either side.

As the traffic is funnelled into the lanes, the confusion begins.
Two pairs of access signs warn cars and motorbikes of restrictions to their passing, indicating the exact times they cannot pass – 7am to 10am one way, 2pm to 7pm the other.
Then there are two no-entry signs applying to the lane on the other side of the road, one width-restriction sign, one cycle sign and a traffic-camera sign.

Figures revealed in a Freedom of Information request by The Mail on Sunday show that the camera caught 41,237 motorists between October 2006 and March 2011, at a rate of almost 800 a month.

Motorist David Howard, 51, said: ‘The signs are so small and numerous you have to slam on your brakes to see them, by which time you’ve been flashed. I bet everyone going down it the first time receives a ticket. I’m certain it’s deliberate.’

A Camden Council spokesman last night denied the camera was a trap. He said: ‘The signs stating the restrictions are clear to motorists.’

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No excuses. No TRO then give back the money

Another blunder by another council. Traffic Regulation Orders are legal documents. If you don't have one or it's incorrect then you can't keep the money. Council cutbacks should come from culling the people paid handsomely from the public purse who have failed to deliver the most basic of legal requirements. No point politicians blaming the previous administration. The responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the council officers responsible.
No law ... no penalty. The District Auditor needs to be tasked with the investigation and the Local Government Ombudsman brought in to investigate the maladministration causing injustice to thousands.

Hyndburn parking tickets since 2008 'could be invalid'
Lancashire Telegraph
Tuesday 24th May 2011
Exclusive By Emma Cruces

EVERY parking ticket issued in an East Lancashire borough over the last three years could be invalid, it has emerged.

Hyndburn Council failed to update its bylaws in line with a new Traffic act in 2008.

Parking campaigners have described it as a ‘major blunder’ and believe it means thousands of tickets issued ‘could be overturned’.

Similar cases have seen the government agency, which would adjudicate on the matter, order that mass refunds occur.

It says ‘outdated terminology invalidates a penalty charge’.

However, the council is confident it will not have to return thousands of pounds in fines, claiming the use of incorrect terms ‘does not affect liability’.

Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones said if the fears proved correct it was the latest in a ‘long list of disasters’ his party’s new ruling group had inherited from the ousted Conservatives.

Town centre trader Chris Fisher said he discovered the council’s bylaw document was out of date after looking into a parking ticket he received this March.

Mr Fisher contacted Neil Herron, the founder of parking watchdog Parking Appeals.

Mr Herron has become a thorn in the side of councils across the country, helping drivers overturn tickets.

He urged motorists to appeal claiming the situation could see all tickets since 2008 overturned. He said: “It’s a major blunder.

“Hyndburn uses the wrong terminology, refers to the wrong legislation.

“They expect members of the public to obey signs to the letter and not be one minute late but can’t even get their own house in order.”

The government repealed the 1991 Road Traffic Act in March 2008, but gave councils two years notice to apply for new powers under the 2004 act.

Though Hyndburn tickets themselves quote the 2004 act, the council’s bylaw document still quotes the 1991 act.

A spokesperson said they believed this ‘does not affect liability’, adding: “We don’t accept their view of the law and have responded saying this.

“Mr Fisher is entitled to set out his case before a parking adjudicator however and they will make the decision.

“The council's view is that the penalty charge notice in question was correctly issued by a civil enforcement officer in accordance with requirements of the Traffic Management Act 2004.”

Hyndburn’s bylaw document is said to use outdated terminology such as ‘parking attendant’ instead of ‘civil enforcement officer’ and refer to the Road Traffic Act 1991 instead of the Road Traffic Act 2004, in key areas.

The fine amount in the council’s bylaw is also said to be set at £60 however the 2004 act quoted on on Mr Fisher’s ticket gives the amount as £40.

Mr Fisher, who owns, Blackburn Road, Accrington, said: “As a trader there is nowhere where you can park all day so you have to keep moving your car on from place to place.

“I was a bit late moving from a three hour spot on Blackburn Road one day and this is the result.

“I just find it frustrating you get no thanks or help as a trader in the town centre and are expected to do extra work just to get yourself from A to B.

“After all that it turns out the council hasn’t done its own homework.”

Earlier this month Labour seized control of Hyndburn Council from the Conservative group.

Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones said: “If this is proved accurate, it can be added to a long list of disasters at the hands of the council.”

Labour leader Miles Parkinson, who takes official control of the council tonight, said: “It sounds as if it warrants a serious investigation and could have a serious effect on the borough.”

But outgoing Conservative leader Peter Britcliffe he had been assured by the legal department the parking tickets were still valid.

He added: “However, it is for the adjudicator to decide. ”

Another council, another blunder ...

Town hall parking tickets may not be valid
by Steve White,
Daily Mirror

All parking tickets issued in a town since 2008 could be void after the council failed to update traffic by-laws.

Chris Fisher, 39, spotted Hyndburn council cites the out-of-date 1991 Road Traffic Act when he was ticketed in Accrington, Lancs.

The printer contacted Neil Herron, of Parking Appeals, who is now urging all motorists ticketed by the authority since the new Act took over in 2008 to appeal. He said: “This is a major blunder.”

The council insisted tickets were legal but referred cases to the parking adjudicator.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Nice work if you can get it ...

Just had Yosser Hughes on the phone asking for Merton's contact details ...

Seems as though the way the consultant sees the way to save money is to 'improve the chances of a PCN being issued' rather than streamlining back-office processes ... or am I missing something?

£85k consultant set to cut Merton Council parking costs amid charges hike
Wimbledon Guardian
Friday 13th May 2011

By Omar Oakes
A management consultant is being paid £85,000 for 12 weeks’ work in an attempt to make the council’s parking department “better value for money” – but critics have questioned whether the outcome will be good news for motorists.

The consultant, drafted in from CapGemini, is looking at how to cut back-office costs in Merton Council’s parking services department.

The department, which current employs 58 full-time staff, spends £2.8m but last year made £9.3m from parking charges, fines and permits.

But Neil Herron, founder of parking control watchdog Parking Appeals, said he was concerned Merton would end up making changes to maximise parking revenue rather than offer a cheaper service.

He said: “Once they’ve made these changes, will it be cheaper to park? Will fewer parking tickets be issued? Will the number of complaints go down? I doubt it.

“The best way to improve the service is to have better signage and an efficient and transparent appeals system.”

Last year the council made £9.5m from car park tickets, parking permits and fines – and motorists have already been hit with higher costs through this year’s budget.

Free parking in some council car parks was cut from 20 minutes to 10 minutes and the imposition of controlled parking zones on Saturdays was announced for residents living in Merton Park.

The council’s deputy leader, Councillor Mark Betteridge, said it was “working hard to transform services and to ensure it provides the very best value for money for residents”.

He said the review was funded from the transformation budget established under the previous [Conservative] administration.

He said: “This review will more than pay for itself as we look to implement the proposed changes that will reduce back-office costs.

“This will help in our drive to keep Merton’s running costs down so we can continue to maintain essential services and keep council tax low for our residents.”

But Rosemary McLaughlin, Merton Council branch secretary for trade union Unison, said: “It is outrageous in the current climate to engage even more consultants at the cost of £85,000.

"It would be expected in-house management with inflated salaries and pay increases would have the skills to transform any service within the council.”

In October, the Wimbledon Guardian revealed Merton Council was condemned by the Parking and Appeals Traffic Service for “underhand tactics”, after a traffic warden used an unmarked civilian car and issued a parking fine to a motorist after hardly any grace period.

And in March, papers released during Merton Council's 2011/12 budget showed the parking service had proposed a number of changes to take effect during this financial year.

Merton Council's proposed changes to parking services and enforcement:

1.Removal 20 min free parking at Pay and Display machines
2.Enforcement by mobile CCTV
3.Introduce borough-wide trade/business permit
4.New person set up charge for the issue of parking permits
5.Increase cost of business permits
6.Reduce observation time from five minutes to two minutes before the issue of a Parking Control Notice (PCN)
7.Review existing parking tariffs for Wimbledon Town Centre Car Parks and expand to all borough car parks
8.Increase by an average of 10% all On Street pay and display tariffs
9.Review all on street Pay and Display tariff structures
10.Expansion of Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) coverage subject to consultation
11.Increase enforcement at bus lanes
What do you think? Leave a comment below, call 020 8722 6335 or email:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

CCTV Not So SmartCar ticking timebomb

Tips 'n' icebergs an' all that!

I anticipate that many councils will be desperately checking their documentation to see whether they've blundered. Hard to justify censuring motorists if a council is breaking the law itself. A word of warning to those caught out ... just be open and transparent and admit the error and accept the consequences. There will be no super-injunctions available to council officers. The British public are a pretty forgiving lot when it comes to people admitting mistakes and saying sorry. They will however fight tooth and nail to expose those who deceive and lie.

Campaigner says Wirral CCTV spy car is 'illegal'
Wirral Globe
Monday 9th May 2011

THE campaigner who made national news by forcing a London council to take its CCTV "spy cars" off the road because of incorrect paperwork says Wirral must do the same.

Nigel Wise discovered discrepancies in the registration of cameras on two of Richmond and Twickenham council's Smart cars after being fined for parking last August.

Following his sucess in London, Mr Wise sent a Freedom of Information request to Wirral demanding to see their spy car paperwork.

Now he says he's found the same mistakes in Wirral's certificates - which would possibly invalidate fines.

Wirral Council has denied this however, and insists its certification is watertight.

Mr Wise successfully had his £100 fine overturned at a parking tribunal hearing last month after he revealed the Vehicle Certification Agency had not declared the actual camera that pictured him parked in the road as an “approved device”.

After the hearing, the council blamed the VCA for the administrative error and said all the council’s camera cars were “correctly licensed”.

But it was forced to make a U-turn and pull the cars off the road last week for officers to check documentation.

A Richmond council spokesman said officers would now go through documents with “a fine-toothed comb” and were looking into whether they would need to refund motorists.

It could have to hand back more than £1m in fines.

Mr Wise contacted the Globe after reading our website report on Friday that Wirral Council had confirmed certification of their car was all in order.

He said: " I think Wirral Council is in for a shock, a bombshell.

"The law clearly states that a council must be in a position to prove that the camera is an 'approved device.'

"Wirral Council would be unable to prove that - as no camera whatsoever is named on Wirral's certificates.

"Nor do they have the maker's name of the system used to record and review pictures.

"It is these elements that require certification. Not the car itself."

Mr Wise added: "This bare fact alone would invalidate any Wirral CCTV car fine or penalty that is taken to appeal.

"It is an inescapable fact that Wirral ought to now take their vehicles off the road forthwith pending the rectification of their inadequate and incomplete certificates."

He urged anyone who has recently received a penalty issued by the Wirral CCTV car to appeal.

The certificates have been seen by the Globe.

The Smart Car is the only item registered. There appears to be no mention of cameras or recording systems.

But a Wirral Council spokesman argued that the two cases are different.

He said: "It is our understanding that Richmond had made changes to its equipment which may have invalidated the original licences.

"Our equipment is the same as was originally approved by the Home Office. We are happy the licence is all in order."

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Let's hope Richmond Council's Leader is true to his word ...

The Richmond CCTV Smartcar case now looks like the Leader will conduct a full, independent investigation.

Leader and newly appointed Member of the House of Lords, Councillor Nicholas True's email to successful appellant Nigel Wise is shown below.
Given his position on London Council's Leader's Committee
and the fact that he is a newly appointed Lord we expect a full, no stone unturned investigation and if it transpires that the evidence placed before PATAS is correct then monies taken unlawfully from motorists MUST be refunded.
If the motoring public is to accept that parking enforcement is about traffic management rather than revenue raising then it must be fair, transparent, proportionate ... and most importantly LEGAL!

-----Original Message-----
From: Cllr Lord True
To: xxxxxxxx
Sent: Wed, 4 May 2011 10:06
Subject: RE: Humane Parking
Thank you. I am fully aware of this correspondence and others from you that I have asked to be examined independently.
I have asked for a full investigation and report to me.
In the interim I did not and do not intend to provide a fuller reply. I also need to receive appropriate legal and technical advice following the panel outcome.
I attach great importance to delivering a parking policy that recognises that parking control is a service designed to make communities more liveable and high streets vibrant and not one designed to gouge resources from an already highly taxed public.
However, proper enforcement of agreed parking policy is a part of this.
No doubt we will be in touch. As a Richmond Borough taxpayer you are entitled to equitable treatment under the law.

Nicholas True
Leader of the Council
Phone: 020 8876 9628
Bus. Email:

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

D'Oh! Council blunder has major financial implications ...

When it comes to parking enforcement it is essential that those taking money from motorists ensure that THEY first comply fully with the law.

When they do it using Smartcar CCTV enforcement there is an even bigger responsibility due to the fact that the equipment MUST be approved by the Secretary of State.

When councils get it wrong then there first responsibility is to address the issue of those motorists fined unlawfully and then look at why highly paid council officers cannot follow simple guidelines and clear legislation.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Private Land ticket cancelled ... how many others have simply paid up?

Neil Herron, Metric Martyr campaigner, took on the parking enforcers for me
Christopher Booker
Sunday Telegraph 1st May 2011

A veteran campaigner, Neil Herron of Metric Martyrs fame has turned his attention to parking law, writes Christopher Booker.
Neil Herron, a veteran of the Metric Martyrs
campaign, is also tackling parking law
Last January I became embroiled in a little problem that I suspect others have shared. Unavoidably delayed overnight in London, I returned to my car parked at Bath station to find a penalty notice for £80, because I had overrun my allotted parking time. I explained to the parking company, Apcoa, why this had happened, and enclosed a cheque to cover the additional time. I also asked why there were seemingly no arrangements to allow drivers unavoidably caught like this to extend their parking time. Apcoa dismissively returned my cheque, insisting that I still owed them £80.

I then consulted my doughty friend Neil Herron, hero of the Metric Martyrs campaign, who has also in recent years become a scourge of the parking industry, by uncovering all the ways in which enforcement so often goes beyond the law. He said that his Parking Appeals Ltd would be delighted to fight my cause, because he had long been waiting for a test case like this.

Parking on private land is subject to contract law. Since I had immediately sought to remedy Apcoa’s loss by reimbursing them the money they were owed, I had honoured our contract – as he looked forward to explaining in court. Apcoa’s response was to send in debt collectors to demand their £80.

Neil’ s reply was, in effect, “See you in court” – knowing this was a case they would not wish to see put to legal test. The debt collectors now reply that Apcoa has decided to drop the matter – just as Neil predicted. He only regrets being deprived of that test case he has long been hoping for.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Not so Smartcars? "Simples ...get approval"

Quick to catch the unsuspecting motorist but now with a dilemma and another frank admission these 'Not So SmartCars' are set to cause a financial headache for Richmond Council. We reported earlier that Nigel Wise's case could be the tip of a very large iceberg.

Richmond Council earlier dismissed the loss of the PCN appeal at PATAS as a 'technicality.' However, it is a fundamental legal requirement that these CCTV Smartcar devices are 'approved' by the Secretary of State. If they are not then the council cannot issue PCNs ... "Simples."

If the council has issued the PCNs without legal authority to do so then they must refund the money. Let's hope that Richmond Council do the decent thing and lead by example.

Parking ticket camera cars taken off road
Evening Standard
Mark Blunden
27 Apr 2011

Drivers in one London borough were feeling a little less persecuted today after council chiefs took CCTV cars off the road following a blunder.

Richmond upon Thames town hall bosses said Smart Cars that issue parking tickets could be out of use for up to a week, potentially losing thousands of pounds in revenue.

The U-turn comes after a landmark ruling in which motorist Nigel Wise had a £100 fine thrown out by a parking appeal tribunal after he proved Richmond was using the wrong kind of cameras on its cars.

The carer, 59, claims councils across the capital, which issue up to £10 million in tickets through Smart Cars every year, are making similar errors.

Last week Richmond said that all its "CCTV camera cars are correctly licensed and were at the time of this (Mr Wise's) incident". But today, the authority admitted this was not the case and campaigners are demanding the authority refunds thousands of parking tickets issued by its two vehicles. A council spokesman said: "In light of Thursday's decision, we are looking at all documentation relating to camera cars.

"Until the checks are complete, both cars have been taken off the road."

Richmond earned more than £573,000 last year from 12,305 tickets issued through CCTV cars. Its parking services are contracted out to Vinci Park, but the final sign-off for camera licences rests with town hall officials.

It had originally blamed the Vehicle Certification Agency, which issues licences, for typographical errors on the certificates. The traffic wardens who normally sit in the cars will instead patrol the borough on foot.

Council still Smarting ...

The council were quick to change their 'terminology' after the earlier admissions, and appear to be blaming the VCA. Regardless of who is to blame the fact remains that it is clear the the vehicles were not legally able to issue PCNs without certification ... and this was the admission at PATAS.

The law is based on technicalities and, as the law is also a 'two-way street' if a motorist technically breaches a traffic order then a PCN can be issued BUT not by a council that does not have its 'technical' house in order.

This little tale has a long way to run ...

Motorist Nigel Wise wins parking fine appeal against Richmond Council over unlicensed CCTV car
Richmond and Twickenham Times
Friday 22nd April 2011
By Paul Teed

A motorist has won an appeal against a parking fine because the council’s CCTV car was not properly licensed.

Nigel Wise, 59, said the ruling could have implications for drivers who had been caught out by mobile surveillance units, because he believed Richmond Council had not correctly certified some of its filming apparatus since March 2007.

The campaigner, who also successfully challenged a ticket in July last year, told the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service (Patas) hearing on Wednesday the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) had not declared the camera that snapped him in Powder Mill Lane, Whitton, in August last year as an “approved device”.

The council blamed the Department for Transport’s VCA, which it applied to for the certificate, and insisted all its CCTV cars had the correct licence.

Councillor Clare Head, cabinet member for traffic at the council, confirmed the VCA made a mistake on the paperwork it sent to the authority, adding: “This is all very frustrating, we believe we lost this case on a technicality. We will learn from this mistake and make sure it does not happen again.”

London Motorists’ Action Group, which backed Mr Wise’s case, claimed the hearing had wider implications for other affected drivers who could now try to overturn their tickets.

A spokesman for the group said: “Mr Wise presented to the tribunal detailed evidence, which proved none of the parking enforcement operations by Richmond’s Smart cars belonging to [parking enforcement company] NSL since March 2007 had been conducted by camera apparatus that was certified as authorised devices.”

Coun Head said: “The Government agency, VCA, responsible for issuing the certificates, made a mistake on the paperwork sent to us confirming the licence for one of our camera cars. Unfortunately, in addition to this, our representative at the hearing was not properly prepared and was unable to refute or verify the claim made by Mr Wise.

“I can now confirm all of Richmond Council’s CCTV camera cars are in fact correctly licensed and were at the time of this incident and also that the VCA document has since been corrected.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Not so Smart ...

At a PATAS hearing last week ... Nigel Wise v London Borough of Richmond ... an extraordinary series of events occurred.
Nigel's clinically prepared case was expertly presented and left council parking representative with no option to concede. Costs were also awarded to Nigel which is something of a rarity.

The exemplary behaviour by Mr. Johnson and his full and frank admission that the council he failed to comply with the legal requirement to have its CCTV Smartcars certified in order to issue PCNs deserves praise. It made a refreshing change ... and I made a point of congratulating Mr. Johnson at the hearing as did Nigel.

However, the council it seems, once re-grouped appear to want to trivialise this rather than do the decent thing, accept the error and refund the money. More to come on this one ...

Hope for motorists in landmark CCTV parking fine victory
Mark Blunden
21 Apr 2011

Drivers issued parking tickets by mobile CCTV vans across London could have their fines quashed, it emerged today.

Campaigners say the case of one motorist who managed to get a ticket overturned on a technicality could lead to thousands of other similar penalties being cancelled.

When Nigel Wise, 59, received a £100 fine he discovered CCTV vans used by Richmond council were using the wrong type of camera, making his ticket invalid.

In a landmark ruling, a tribunal at the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service in Islington overturned the penalty, opening the door for appeals potentially worth millions of pounds.

Mr Wise, a full-time carer, claims to have unearthed evidence of similar errors at councils across the capital.

There are 43 Smart Cars equipped with CCTV in at least 24 boroughs, according to civil liberties group Big Brother Watch. Neil Herron, of the London Motorists' Action Group, said: "This is a landmark case. It has proved that you can't have any old cameras running around in any old car.

"Richmond council did not apply for the correct camera certificates, it was their error."

It is estimated that up to £10 million worth of tickets are issued city-wide by the CCTV vehicles every year.

Conservative-run Richmond earned more than £573,000 last year from 12,305 tickets of that type.

The authority today sought to shift the blame for the cameras to the government agency responsible for issuing the certificates.

Clare Head, Richmond's cabinet member for traffic, said: "The Government agency, the Vehicle Certification Agency, responsible for issuing the certificates made a mistake on the paperwork sent to us confirming the licence for one of our camera cars.

"This is all very frustrating. We believe we lost this case on a technicality. We'll learn from this mistake and make sure it does not happen again."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

West country .... nice little earner?

Tickets issued to 'help traffic flow' ... with restrictions operating 6.30am until 10.30pm one has to ask the question 'is traffic flow so busy at night to command enforcement until 10.30pm?'

City motorists pay out £4m for illegal parking
Monday, April 25, 2011, 09:00

DRIVERS in Bristol were issued with more than £4 million of parking fines last year – and the council is recruiting even more wardens to stop people flouting the rules.
The number of parking tickets slapped on windscreens and bus-lane fines posted through letter boxes by Bristol City Council has nearly doubled in the past two years to more than 70,000 as motorists continue to park in places they should not.

More than 60 wardens are now employed by the council but officials say they are simply trying to get people to comply with the parking regulations – not out to make money.

The parking services department has increased its staff from 32 in 2008 to 63 at the start of this year – and has just taken on another eight civil enforcement officers.

On average 27 officers are on duty in Bristol each day between 6:30am and 10:30pm.
Parking manager for the council, David Bunting, told the Evening Post the dramatic increase in tickets was due to a significant increase in the number of wardens and a much more targeted approach by the council.

"We improved our allocation of staff to hotspot areas and looked at it scientifically and I think people continue to park illegally," he said.
"It could be there are more cars parking where they shouldn't but I suspect it is because we have been more targeted with our resources.
"We are here to make the traffic flow and we just want compliance."

Parking tickets issued by Bristol City Council are £50 for less serious cases, such as over-staying in a pay-and-display bay and £70 for more serious contraventions – for example, parking on a double yellow line. Payments received within 14 days of issue are discounted by 50 per cent.
In September last year the Evening Post reported that £900,000 of parking fines were outstanding.

In the latest figures obtained by the Post the council revealed they had recouped just £2.2 million of the £4 million total issued last year.
But they said this figure is growing daily and two thirds of the fines issued had been paid within 14 days at a discounted rate.
The cost of enforcing Bristol's double yellows, bus lanes and resident permit schemes was £2.1 million last year and the council revealed it has started making a profit after suffering significant losses.

The increased level of fines has enabled them to turn a £691,250 loss for the year ended March 31, 2009 into a profit of £259,000 for 2010.
"All parking surpluses go into a transport account used to fund park and ride and highway maintenance," said Mr Bunting.
The net sum of fines recouped grew from £1.1 million in 2008 to £1.6 million in 2009 and £2.2 million to date from last year.

These sums came from 61,871 parking tickets and 15,010 tickets for driving in a bus lane for the 12 months up to November 30, 2010.

Hugh Bladon, a founding member of the Association of British Drivers, said he feared the significant increase was probably from "overzealous" wardens, although the council have confirmed wardens are not subject to targets or quotas.
"The big problem we've got is that motorists are being penalised left right and centre," said Mr Bladon, from Weston-super-Mare. "If you want a city centre to thrive you need to make provision for parking." He praised Cabot Circus but questioned provisions in the Clifton and Whiteladies, notorious parking hotspots.
"People who cause obstructions deserve to suffer whatever punishment is meted out," he added. "But the trouble is if you treat people like children they act like them."

More than £138,000 of fines were written off last year due to successful appeals and out of date DVLA records.

Of 12,630 tickets appealed some 4,475 were successful.
The council said each appeal is considered on its merits and fully investigated but revealed 2,667 tickets were cancelled after a "general reason" was supplied, 556 were cancelled after receipt of "acceptable evidence" such as pay and display tickets, 334 because of "extenuating circumstances" and 236 because of administrative errors.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Have you been issued with a PCN?

If you have then it is important that you check whether the location where you were issued with the PCN is correctly marked. If it isn't then you may find the extracts from the Moss decision useful.

[2010] EWHC 2923 (Admin)
Verbatim extracts of the judgment of Ouseley J of 14 October 2010 that
referred to law relating to parking enforcement (emphasis added)

On street Parking
I do not propose to deal with the two spaces at the Town Hall because there is no doubt that the PCNs were unlawfully issued. The matter was remedied, and a comparatively small sum was involved.

28 The Local Authorities' Traffic Orders Procedure (England and Wales) Regulations 1996, SI 1996/2499, requires in Regulation 18 that such traffic signs as the local authority may consider requisite for securing that adequate information as to the effect of the order is available to road users should be placed on or near the road before a traffic regulation order comes into force.

Mr Moss's first contention to the auditor was that the road markings used by Bolton MBC for its restricted areas, such as loading bays or doctors' or disabled parking bays, and for permitted or designated parking areas, invariably did not comply with what was prescribed by the Regulations. He provided a schedule of some of these together with generalised evidence that he had been unable to find a single one that met the requirements of the Regulations. He provided photographs of a number of contravening markings but did not provide a copy of most of the prescribed diagrams to enable a comparison to be made between the actual and the prescribed markings.

30 Mr Gullick submitted, based on Mr Moss's evidence, that the non compliance with the prescribed diagrams was more than trivial or de minimis on each occasion. The council had accepted, during 2007, that most of its road parking markings did not comply with the Regulations. As from October 2007 it set about re marking them, starting with the roads which generated most PCNs.

38 Of some relevance also is the decision of Jackson J in R (Barnet London Borough Council) v Parking Adjudicator [2006] EWHC 2357 Admin, [2007] RTR 14. This concerned the invalidity of a PCN which did not state the date of its issue as required by Section 66 of the Road Traffic Act 1991. Jackson J dealt with the argument that no prejudice was caused to the defendant by that clear non compliance, at paragraphs 41 to 42:

"41 Mr Lewis submits that even if there was non compliance in this respect, nevertheless
no prejudice was caused, PCNs should not be regarded as invalid. I do not accept this
submission. Prejudice is irrelevant and does not need to be established. The 1991 Act
creates a scheme for the civil enforcement of parking control. Under this scheme,
motorists become liable to pay financial penalties when certain
specified statutory conditions are met. If the statutory conditions are
not met, then the financial liability does not arise.

42 In the present case, the two PCNs issued by Barnet on 31st March 2005 did not
comply with section 66 (3) (c), (d) and (e) of the 1991 Act. Accordingly, the
requirements of section 66 were not satisfied and no financial liability was triggered
either by the PCN or by any subsequent stage in the process such as the notice to

39 Mr Gullick also relied on what Mr Gary Hickinbottom (as he then was) said in the Parking Appeals Service on the review of the decision of the Chief Parking Adjudicator in Burnett v Buckinghamshire County Council in April 1988. He said obiter that signs had to comply with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions, adding:
"Consequently, in summary, as a condition precedent of a local authority enforcing a parking penalty, as a breach of a TRO made under the 1984 Act, the obligations of a motorist must be properly signed in accordance with the detailed provisions of the [2002] Regulations."

Part of his overall conclusion was this:

"Where an adjudicator finds that an authority has acted ultra vires in failing to comply with its mandatory obligations properly to set out the alleged contravention of a PCN or properly to sign a parking or waiting restriction, he can and indeed must find that the authority cannot pursue a penalty based upon its own unlawful act with the result that he must allow the appellant's appeal. In this case the council has failed to comply with two mandatory obligations. First, it failed to sign the restriction and, second, it failed properly to identify the contravention of the relevant Regulations upon which it purports to rely. By virtue of these failings, the council has acted beyond its powers and the appellant's appeal must be allowed."

46 Of course I am troubled by the width of the submissions which such an approach appears to be capable of generating. Mr Gullick submitted that where the transverse lines enclosing a long street bay were single and not double, or it may be the other way round, the entire length of bays was not subject to enforcement by PCN. The submission is troubling because it would appear to affect the obligation to pay and display, and potentially the permission to park. On the other hand, I can also see the attraction at least to some of meeting what may be zealous, technical and even over zealous car parking enforcement with a thoroughly technical response. The leeway claimed by the errant local authority is not to be denied by it to the errant driver.

48 In the end, and without great confidence, I have concluded that what Mr Hickinbottom said in Buckinghamshire County Council should be taken to be the law. The purpose behind a common prescribed system of road signs and markings includes certainty for drivers wherever they are in the country. They are not therefore faced with different varieties of signs wherever they go for the same permitted parking, prohibitions and restrictions. The common system also regulates signs in order to avoid clutter and confusion to road users by regulating what can or cannot be put on the road surface or signs by its side.

49 The statutory system of prescribed road signs also forbids the use of non compliant road signs. If the statutory prohibition in Section 64 (4) of the 1984 Act were enforced, it would cause the removal of many signs necessary to delineate and inform drivers about the extent of permission and restrictions or prohibitions. That would also prevent adequate information being conveyed about them to the driver. A local authority should not be able to rely on its contraventions of statute as a basis for exacting a penalty and the civil enforcement measures that follow from non payment of a PCN.

50 As this is also the approach which, following Mr Hickinbottom's decision in Buckinghamshire County Council in 1998, I assume parking adjudicators have routinely followed for many years without challenge by non compliant local authorities, I would be reluctant to upset what appears to be the current system of parking enforcement and parking adjudicating decisions on the basis of the arguments which I have heard. Bolton MBC has not attempted to take these issues further on appeal against a parking adjudicator or to address them before me. Such an approach should also act as a spur to compliance by local authorities with a duty under Section 64 rather than giving them a licence to adopt a slovenly indifference, which appears to have been Bolton MBC's approach until Mr Moss stung them into action in October 2007.

This proves that for some parking fines are no deterrent

The vulgar wealth of Premiership footballers leads to this sort of anti-social behaviour. If parking matters were still dealt with by the courts then this 'arrogance' could be dealt with in a different way.

The football industry needs to clean itself up otherwise the new generation will see this sort of behaviour as something to aspire to.

Millionaire Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli pays out £100,000 in parking fines after his car is impounded 27 times
By Marcus Barnes
Daily Mail
25th April 2011

With £100,000-a-week to play around with you might forgive Mario Balotelli for being a ever so slightly frivolous with his hard earned cash.

But the Manchester City striker appears to have let the mountains of money go to his head, adopting a total disregard for the north west city's parking laws.

While us mere mortals pay close attention to where we can park and how long for, the millionaire Italian footballer constantly flouts parking rules notching up almost £10,000 in parking fines.

Car calamity: Mario Balotelli has picked up almost £100,000 in parking fines
Another day, another ticket: Balotelli's Maserati gets a ticket outside San Carlo's restaurant in Manchester city centre
On top of that his obligatory supercar, a white Maserati, has been impounded some 27 times.

Frustrated liaison officers at Manchester City have had to go and pick up his car for him every time it gets towed away.

A source at the club told The Sun newspaper: 'Mario will drive from his luxury apartment to a restaurant a few streets away and leave the car on double yellows.

'The other week the Maserati misfired so he just abandoned it. Staff have had to bail it out 27 times.

'The valet the club uses empties the glovebox of tickets every time he cleans it. Mario doesn't seem to care. It's a drop in the ocean to him.'
But it seems that's just the tip of the iceberg as far as his arrogance in concerned.

Million pound signing: Balotelli was snapped up by Manchester City for a cool £22.5million
The footballer was also accused of cheating on model and former Big Brother contestant Sophie Reade (pictured) with her best friend, another glamour girl named Faye Evette
According to the report, Balotelli was allegedly once pulled over by police with £25,000 in cash on his passenger seat.

When asked why he had the money, he simply said 'Because I can'.

Balotelli has also had to pay out £300,000 in club fines, most recently for throwing darts at a youth team player.

And on the field he has had ten yellow cards and two reds in only 24 appearances.
The Italian's private life is just as colourful - and, again, it's the player's sheer audacity that makes his love life so interesting.

Last August he dumped stunning model girlfriend Melissa Castagnoli by text message.
But she got her revenge by reading the messages out live on air.

The two texts Castagnoli received from Balotelli read: 'I’m back (Balotelli had caught a private jet from Manchester to Italy) to make you change, but never mind, you’re sunk. Everything is against you tomorrow, bye!'
'You‘re a stupid girl, the real problem is not a child, but stupid! Say hello to the (presenter), which is good for you! Um, OK.'

He was also accused of cheating on model and former Big Brother contestant Sophie Reade with her best friend, another glamour girl named Faye Evette.

And Reade, 25, let rip at both her friend and Balotelli in a series of posts on her Twitter page.

One of which read: 'Would like to let everyone know @FayeEvette is a s*** and slept with the guy I was seeing! What a friend and welcome 2011. Mario Balotelli is a ****er!!'

Friday, April 15, 2011

Council employs graffiti artist to paint road markings?

Now graffiti artist Banksy has often been spotted with 'parking related artwork' on the streets of London but don't ever think that he has been spotted as far north as Yarm. That said, I do not think that he would wish to be associated with the shocking state of affairs on the cobbled streets of Yarm. A little reminder to the council ... have a read of TSRGD 2002 ... and perhaps start making efficiency savings by identifying the officers tasked with understanding and complying with the law! Wonky Yarm High Street lines baffle traders by Lindsey Mussett, BAFFLED traders in Yarm thought a graffiti artist conman was on the loose when wonky yellow lines and parking bays began to appear on their high street. Evening Gazette But despite their appearance, the lines are in fact official markings - painted on by Stockton Council workers. Business owners contacted the Gazette fearing that the markings - which include double yellow lines along the edge of the cobbles and white parking bays on them - were the work of a conman posing as a council worker. Some of the parking bays are too small even to fit a car between, while the yellow lines take a very uneven turn and are missing in some areas. Peter Bell, of The House fashion store, said: “We became very suspicious when we realised he wasn’t actually very good at spraying and was marking bays in the wrong directions and the wrong sizes.” Mr Bell also claimed he was contacted by a number of residents saying they had paint on their cars. One Yarm resident, who did not wish to be named, told the Gazette that Stockton Council had been reported to police due to “non-compliant” markings on the high street. A Stockton Council spokesperson said: “We have been contacted by the police about allegations surrounding parking enforcement. “Yarm High Street is a designated disc zone and not a controlled parking zone. Parking enforcement on Yarm High Street is carried out under a Traffic Regulation Order which has been in place since 1998 and as such we are legally permitted to enforce parking on the high street. “The painted lines are a temporary measure to make parking bays clearer for car owners. “Unfortunately, because of the nature of cobble stones, painted markings get worn quite quickly. “We apologise for the standard of these temporary markings. We will be laying permanent white lines over the weekend bringing the markings back up to standard. This work will be carried out during off-peak hours to minimise disruption.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Parking tickets to mourners ...

Disgust over parking fines handed to mourners at funeral
This is Grimsby
Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 09:00

FURIOUS mourners were left stunned when they were handed £70 parking fines at the funeral of a 24-year-old relative.
Four cars were parked on the grass verge in front of the car park at Grimsby Crematorium, away from the yellow lines on Weelsby Avenue, but each were still hit with a fine.
The recipients are vowing to contest the charges, with one declaring: "I would rather go to prison than pay that."
North East Lincolnshire Council has admitted the four tickets should not have been handed out – as it is revealed that more than 1,000 disgruntled motorists have successfully appealed against their fines.
Val Gautby, 71, of Chichester Road, Cleethorpes, was fined while attending the funeral of her daughter's nephew, Daniel Stocks, who lost a 20-year battle to leukaemia, as reported.
She believes the parking wardens responsible should be more considerate.
"They need to be taught about diplomacy and consideration," she said.
"I was at a funeral; it is the last place I want to be especially after a young lad has gone through such a lot.

"I don't want it to become a witch hunt or for the person responsible to lose their job but I think whoever it was should be reprimanded.
"The council should set up a scheme to teach them diplomacy for a start."
Mrs Gautby, who has been driving for about 50 years, said the car park at the crematorium was already full when she arrived, and the hearse was behind her so she parked on a grass verge.
"I parked off the road away from the double yellow lines," she said. "I had to go there because the car park was full, and the hearse was coming.
"I had just been at the funeral where I was upset that a young man had passed away and when I came out I could see the yellow envelope on my car.
"I couldn't believe it, it was so insensitive."
Both her grandson and son-in-law were pall bearers at the well-attended service.
Jason Longhurst, assistant executive director for planning, transportation and housing at the council, said: "The issuing of penalty notices to mourners at this funeral is totally unacceptable. Compassion and common sense must prevail.

"Anyone who feels they have wrongly been issued a ticket should follow our informal challenge process which allows us to take these special circumstances into account."
Val's ticket, which was issued 20 minutes after the start of the funeral, stated she had "parked in a restricted street during prescribed hours".
Although the £70 fine will be reduced to £35 if paid within 28 days, she said she will not be paying it.
She said: "There is no way I will pay a penny. I have written to the council to tell them of my intentions."

Daniel's grandmother, Pat Stocks, also parked on the grass verge and was given a ticket.
She said: "It was my grandson's funeral service at the crematorium with about 150 people there to show their respects from all parts of England.
"It was obviously a very sad day for us all but it went as well as one would expect until we went back to the car park afterwards to find that a parking warden had, while we were in the crematorium, given four people parking tickets.
"They were obviously nowhere to be seen. I became so distraught and upset I couldn't believe it.
"I have read in recent weeks about the behaviour of some of these wardens, but this takes the biscuit.
"I felt so guilty that I was apologising to everyone who attended the service."
Councillors Cliff Barber, Peggy Elliott and Chris Shaw have stepped in to help the recipients.
"I am disgusted at what has happened and will be taking it further," said Mr Barber.
"There are people who park incorrectly and dangerously and try to abuse the system – that deserves a ticket.
"But there are times when just that little bit of common sense prevails."

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