Friday, March 18, 2011

Unduly Lenient Sentences

Did you know that if you feel that a sentence has been unduly lenient then you, as a member of the public, can ask the Attorney General to look at the case. The extract from the Attorney General's website is listed below.

Anyone can ask the Attorney General to look at a case
Victims, their families, and members of the public can contact the Attorney General's Office if they think a sentence is much too light.

It's easy to ask the Attorney General to look at a case - you don't need a lawyer. To ask for a sentence to be looked at, you'll need some basic information. This includes:

•the name of the person who was sentenced;
•the name of the Crown Court where the sentence was passed;
•the crimes committed;
•the date of sentence.
And also tell us which case you are concerned about and why you think it should be changed. You should contact the Correspondence Unit. The Attorney General's Office will email you when a decision is made whether to refer the case to the Court of Appeal.

Don't worry if you don't have all the information, but the more you can give us, the more likely it is that we will find the right case.

If you can, also phone the Attorney General's Office on 020 7271 2492. You may need to leave a message

Monday, March 07, 2011

One rule for one ... and crocodile tears ...

Adopting the council's philosophy that this was 'an administrative error' and therefore anyone who paid the PCN they have accepted the penalty perhaps any motorist who buys a pay and display ticket but gets back a few minutes late can make the same excuse.

How many other councils CCTV PCNs have the same error?
Will there be any sympathy from the motorist as the council sheds its crocodile tears?

Parking ‘clerical error’ joy for drivers
Bolton Evening News
9:10am Monday 7th March 2011

HUNDREDS of drivers have escaped a parking fine after town hall bosses admitted a clerical error had been made on some tickets.

Motorist Barry Moss noticed Bolton Council was putting a short code on its fixed penalty notices when it should have been using a long code.

In a Freedom of Information request, the council admitted cancelling 214 tickets and writing off 428 others because they used the short code.

The authority began using the long code on November 17 last year.

Mr Moss, aged 64, of Hindley Road, Westhoughton, called for the authority to refund every other ticket with the short code on it which could number nearly 2,800.

But the council said payers had already accepted liability.

At the centre of the matter is the council’s CCTV smart car which has been used since November, 2009, to collect evidence on lawbreaking motorists.

Tickets are issued in the form of a letter in the post rather than a notice on their windscreen.

Joe Cumbo, aged 67, got two tickets for parking on a single yellow line in Bury Road, Breightmet, last March. He paid one but, after speaking to Mr Moss, challenged the second— and the council cancelled it because of a “clerical error”.

Mr Cumbo, of Breightmet Drive, Breightmet, said: “The other ticket had the same code, so why can’t I get a refund?

It’s wrong.”

Tracey Pilkington, aged 44, of Westhoughton, also had her ticket cancelled on the same grounds after parking on double yellow lines in Market Street, Westhoughton.

Council figures show 2,786 people were ticketed from November 1, 2009, to November 5, 2010, as a result of the Smartcar evidence and, of those, motorists paid a total of £83,792.50 in fines.

A council spokesman said: “An adjudicator in a particular case took a view that the detail about the parking contravention on the parking contravention notice could have been clearer.

“Software has since been amended to include further detail of the contravention that occurred to be as clear as possible.

“We chose to cancel these two unpaid tickets, as although they were enforceable, we accepted the view that the parking contravention could have been clearer.

“However, if a customer has paid the fine, then they have accepted that they have parked where they should not have done.”

Sunday, March 06, 2011

When the scales of justice start to tip ...

It sometimes takes a lot for the British public to reach tipping point but when they do they will come together to ensure that unfairness and injustice is corrected and the 'balance' restored.

The last time the Scales of Justice were 'tipped' was when Steve Thoburn had his scales seized. Now we are witnessing the same undercurrent amongst the disparate groups and motorists across the land.

The injustice suffered by pensioner Peter Harry will be 'corrected' by the collective coming together of the British motoring public to ensure that justice is seen to be done in the most high profile and public of fashions. Let us hope that the various agencies responsible for ensuring the correct and legal behaviour act expediently and in a transparent fashion and don't abrogate THEIR responsibility.

Remember that the sums involved in parking enforcement make the MPs expenses scandal seem like small change.

Anger at sentence for ex-council man
This is Exeter
By Tom Bevan

A COUNCILLOR has branded the sentencing of a parking official who admitted forging documents as "unduly lenient"."

Geoffrey Urwin, 43, who worked at Exeter City Council as a parking support team leader, doctored a map that was presented to a traffic penalty tribunal after motorist Peter Harry appealed against a ticket he had been given.

As revealed in the Echo, Urwin, of Oxford Road, St James, pleaded guilty to a charge of wilful misconduct at Exeter Crown Court and was given an absolute discharge by Judge Graham Cottle, the Recorder of Exeter.

But the judge's decision has sparked fury, with Cllr Percy Prowse, who helped initiate the original investigation, saying he had written to the police asking if there were grounds for appeal.
And the victim Mr Harry, 67, who lives in Dawlish, said he was "astounded" by the judge's leniency.

Before Urwin entered his plea, Judge Cottle spoke of his disbelief that the case had ever reached the crown court in the first place. "The CPS lawyer spent hours on this case? I wonder whether that was money well spent," the judge said.

But his comments sparked anger from Mr Harry who said: "I am astounded by this decision especially when he said this case should never have been brought to the Crown Court. I don't know where else it could go.

"All the suffering I have gone through to get to this point but you cannot even say this is a slap on the wrist. He got nothing.

"I am livid and disgusted with what went on. He should have heard the case. He did not ask for an explanation."

Exeter city councillor Percy Prowse, who is also a former police officer, said: "I was sat in the back of the court and could not believe what I heard the judge say. He said he did not understand the case and could not work out why it was in front of him.

"He seemed to trivialise the facts and appeared to make light of the offence. I was a police officer for 30 years and if I had forged or falsified a document that would have resulted in the conviction of an innocent member of the public that same judge would have understood quite clearly what the offence was. That would be no different to a public official of Exeter City Council who did exactly that.

"I have since written to the police asking if the CPS would consider an appeal against an unduly lenient sentence.

"The message this sends out to the public is that if an official does such a thing, when they are found out they get nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Public trust in public figures is at rock bottom and things like this will mean it stays down the bottom."

Bailiff Action Petition ...

The petition below has been launched by Dr Devaki Bhatta and is indicative now of the growing element of the British motoring public who are suffering at the hands of the lawless, unaccountable parking industry.

There will soon be a coming together of all the disparate groups including professionals in the industry who want to see a proper system of fair, transparent and legal parking enforcement in this country.

Decisions such as those from Judge Cottell merely serve to fan the flames of injustice.

Bailiff Action for Parking Tickets
To: Ministry of Justice

Unlawful private Bailiffs (contracted by local councils) are getting away with blackmail, extortion and plain theft through eliciting fear and distress to innocent people with the intention of forcing them to part with excessive amounts of money or risk paying a far greater penalty. For many people, finding their vehicle ‘seized’ or opening the door to a threatening bailiff is the first and only warning of any outstanding fine, prior to so-called ‘punishment’ being enacted.

The ‘procedural system’ involving the Traffc Enforcement Centre (TEC) via which ordinary, law-abiding citizens must file representations to get their case heard is so flawed and long-winded, that it is in favour of the authorities and allows Bailiffs to operate outside the edge of the law in the meantime. This works on the basis of maximum disruption to the individual concerned, so ultimately relies on the majority of individuals “giving in” to avoid months of distress and incurring further costs.

Politicians and judges are well aware of this, yet traffic enforcement policies are not high enough on anyone’s priority list for it to be investigated; as a result, the motorist continues to be “guilty until proven innocent”.

This petition demonstrates the overwhelming support for the fight against Bailiff action for motoring ‘offences’, with a view to getting someone at the Ministry of Justice to stand up and take note!


The Undersigned


The Bailiff Action for Parking Tickets Petition to Ministry of Justice was created by and written by Dr Devaki Bhatta (

This petition is hosted and can be signed here

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Another ominous sign as the storm clouds gather over the south western front ...

More and more eyes are looking at the parking enforcement in the South West and more and more motorists are realising that they are being treated simply as a 'cash-cow' by some councils who seem to regard their requirement to comply with the law as an 'inconvenience.'

When the ship starts to sink it will make the MPs expenses scandal and pensions and insurance mis-selling look like small beer.

To all the people in the parking industry intent to operating correct and lawful regimes with traffic management rather than revenue being the driver we will continue to support and praise your good work.

To all those who thought that they were above the law and thought that the little guy would be a pushover ... there are too many watching now for this ever to be swept under the carpet.

Signs 'error' could lead to parking ticket refunds

Express and Echo
Wednesday March 2nd 2011

PARKING fines may have been issued unlawfully in Exmouth town centre, it has been claimed.
Devon county councillor Percy Prowse says the restricted zone area in Manchester Road contravenes traffic regulations because signs were put up without the necessary authorisation from the Secretary of State.

The former policeman claims that between May 5, 2008 and January 27, 2011, 17 tickets have been issued to unsuspecting motorists unlawfully.

The Echo has seen documents which indicate that the traffic order for the road does not have the requisite authority. Cllr Prowse says any parking tickets which have been issued could now be refunded.

He said: "County council officers have exceeded their lawful authority in allowing East Devon District Council to issue penalty tickets in that zone. They are issuing tickets to motorists unlawfully. As far as I can see, the signs are not compliant with the law and therefore there's no foundation to issue a ticket to a motorist."
He added: "And under the traffic order I have seen, the signs show that the restricted zone is for Manchester Street but it's supposed to be for Manchester Road.
"Because they've done every-thing in a hurry, they've made huge mistakes.
"I am aware that 17 tickets have been issued to unsuspecting motorists on Manchester Street for which there was no lawful authority but I should think there would be far more on Manchester Road.
"You've got to be a very clever motorist to know something's wrong."

Cllr Prowse has raised several issues relating to this cause including accusing the council of unlawfully collecting almost £6,000 in parking fines in a similar restricted parking zone in Market Square, Crediton.

Peter Harry, 68, of Dawlish, was issued a ticket for parking on Manchester Road when he was visiting Exmouth in January and is now appealing.
"I put in a freedom of information request for all the restricted zones in Devon and all those that have been authorised and there were two that had not – Market Street in Crediton and Manchester Road in Exmouth. I should never have been issued with a ticket."

The county council was unavailable for comment despite repeated requests.

Parking Manager ... 'to secure and maximise income.'

Show me the money. Show me the money.

Shouldn't it be 'manage traffic flow?'

Daily Express
2nd March 2011.

A COUNCIL is offering to pay £600-a-day for someone to squeeze more parking fees out of motorists.
The new head of parking services for an unnamed local authority in London would rake in £156,000 a year for a five-day week.

An advertisement placed by a recruitment agency gives the job description as including “securing and maximising critical income” from on-street parking.
Last night the job advert caused outrage among taxpayer groups.

Charlotte Linacre, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Councils are driving taxpayers round the bend squandering cash and paying off‑the‑scale rewards for senior staff. It’s ridiculous that this council, instead of getting a grip on spending, is offering a six‑figure salary for a parking manager.
“Taxpayers will be outraged to hear they are being ripped off twice, once at the parking meter and again paying these absurdly high wages.”

Last month the Daily Express revealed that Britons pay £991million in parking fines every year.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Lester Cowling's Parking Battle ...

Dorset parking ticket battle: Lester Cowling’s story

WHEN I returned my car to find I was being giving a parking ticket I felt as if I was being mugged.
Less than five minutes before I’d been speaking amicably with the Traffic Warden. He’d seen me get out of the car, he’d seen that I’d not noticed the parking machine, and he’d let me walk off. Then he’d given me a ticket. He was, it appears, simply obeying orders. It’s not council policy for Traffic Warden to alert motorists to the fact they may be about to commit an offence.

In fairness to him, his notes to some extent accord to my recollection.
He claimed he’d shouted after me. If so I hadn’t heard him. Neither apparently had anybody else in Dorchester’s High West Street – somebody would have pointed it out if a Traffic Warden was trying to get my attention.

He said I should have been aware that a new pay and display scheme was in force because it had been widely advertised in the Press and on commercial radio.
It was a theme taken up by Parking Services Manager Anne-Marie Goodbody who wrote to me in December 2009: “The new pay and display scheme was advertised in the local press and on the radio.”

This statement was untrue. Checks revealed no advertisements were placed in the press and no commercial had been aired on radio.
Eventually, in May last year, the County Council conceded there’d been no advertising. Why had I been told this untruth?

To bully me into submission and into giving up my fight?
This was just the start of it. My problem with the pay-and-display sign was that it was on the very edge of the pavement and you needed to step out into the busy road to see it.

Suddenly at the beginning of last year it, and others, were realigned. Now they could be easily read from the pavement.

After several weeks I wrote to ask why this had been done. Had it been because of protests from other motorists? If so, that would have had a bearing on my case. The County Council declined to say how many others had protested. Instead they returned the signs to their original alignment.

I’m not anti parking regulations or parking charges.
There are 60 million of us on this crowded island and there’s got to be rules.
But there has to be fairness too.
I wasn’t the only one caught out.

Others started to complain. Parking Services Manager Anne-Marie Goodbody insisted to the Dorset Echo there was an appeals process for those who felt aggrieved. So I thought, let’s give it go. The experience has been an eye-opener.

Appeals are handled by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, an organisation funded by participating councils. It has the final say and its rulings cannot be challenged. They scheduled a hearing for last September which I’d agreed could be held over the phone. I’d been assured it was unlikely anybody from the County Council would want to be involved. It would just be me and the adjudicator.

Still, I prepared fully, returning from a trip a day early and re-arranging work. A few hours before the hearing was due I was told that it was off. The County Council claimed its notification of the appeal had been delayed in the post, had only turned up late the previous afternoon and Mrs Goodbody was away on holiday and she might want to be involved. I protested. This was typical of the contempt with which these bodies treat the public.

The decision, I was told by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, had been made by an adjudicator and therefore couldn’t be questioned. Maybe, but what the Tribunal was in effect doing was acting at the beck and call of a junior member of staff at Dorset County Council.

What evidence was there that there’d really been a delay with mail?
More likely, it seemed to me, administrative chaos. The adjudicator obviously hadn’t regarded me as important when it came to making his or her decision.
And what was all this about letters delayed? Surely these people can use email? It turned out they weren’t allowed to do so unless both parties officially consented.
Local government!

Under pressure they agreed to do so in future. But agreeing that involved a dialogue between them from which I was excluded.
I began to wonder just how close Dorset County Council and the Traffic Penalty Tribunal really were.

How many other dialogues go on from which appellants are excluded?
Is the Traffic Penalty Tribunal a body capable of policing parking regulation?

More successes ... more cancellations ... praise for Southwark Council

Tickets cancelled. Refunds given. Great work by the NoToMob team BUT respect to Southwark Council for making the refunds and correcting the error

Hundreds of parking tickets cancelled
South London Press
Tuesday, 01 March 2011

MORE than 550 parking tickets have been cancelled after campaigners exposed them to be unlawful, it has emerged.
Southwark council fined 557 drivers after extending a loading bay in Valmar Road, near Coldharbour Lane in Camberwell.

But an investigation by campaign group NoToMob revealed the town hall had not issued a legal traffic management order about the extension – so all the tickets were invalid.
The fines were issued between January and November last year.

NotoMob was set up by motorbike riders to challenge what it describes as “revenue-driven parking enforcement”.
A spokesman for the group said: “Town hall parking enforcement is about revenue generation and not road safety.
“CCTV enforcement is being used to rake in cash at honeytraps while locations such as school crossings are being ignored.
“We plan to expose all councils which issue tickets under dubious circumstances.”

A Southwark council spokesman said: “As soon as we realised the mistake it was corrected.
“All drivers who had paid the penalty charge notices were contacted and given refunds and all other tickets were cancelled.”

The gathering of the clans ...

In the hills and the valleys and the towns and the cities and on every piece of potholed tarmac that Britain's motorists traverse at £8 per gallon and with a £50,000,000,000 tax take per annum to the Treasury there comes a moment where 'tipping point' is reached.

On top of the potholes, the 'speed awareness courses' for doing 34mph in a 30mph zone, and the lack of investment in the country's decaying road infrastructure, Britain's motorists are often pursued to the ends of the earth for the most minor of parking contraventions (minute late back to a meter, an inch over a white line) by councils now empowered to raise the fines, issue the fines, collect the money and keep the money (and appeals adjudicated upon by 'independent' adjudicators paid at the rate of 60p from every ticket issued) ... we now see one of those public officials, who are paid handsomely from the public purse, in a position of trust with pension rewards the private sector would die for (if they could retire early enough to extract the benefit) ... given an absolute discharge for forging documents to extract a £60 fine from a pensioner.

Now just hold that thought for a minute.

A £60 fine for parking in a pay and display bay that wasn't marked correctly BUT an absolute discharge for the person FORGING the documents to make a financial gain for his employers, Exeter City Council.

Read the press cutting below .... "The defendant has admitted he doctored the plan and blames others in the council for being involved."

A word of warning to all those council officers out there who thought that they were above the law. To those council officers who thought that they could act with impunity. To those council officers who thought that their colleagues or 'the system' would protect them.

Check the Local Authority (Indemnities for Officers and Members) Order 2004 ... and then check out how much you personally have to lose should the council decide that, because of your actions, you cannot be protected. Don't assume that you are protected.

The MPs serving time at Her Majesty's Pleasure did not expect such a turn of events but thanks to the dogged determination of Heather Brooke who exposed the MPs expenses scandal the public saw that justice could be dispensed and the guilty dispatched.

In some council areas Civil Parking Enforcement is lawless, unregulated and out of control and has been for a number of years and it is the new MPs expenses scandal, the pensions and endowments mis-selling, the disgraceful bank charges scandal ... but now the moment is upon us where every motorist who has suffered a personal injustice but has been daunted by the enormity of taking on the system can join behind a man who has been prepared to stand up to be counted.

The Peter Harry case, a pensioner pursued relentlessly for a £60 fine with council officials prepared to forge documents for financial gain has unsettled the common man. If the Judges and the etsablishment will not protect and defend our rights and freedoms how will justice ever be seen to be done?

Thanks and praise needs to go to all those parking offiocers and many parking managers who are quietly and openly supprting what we do knowing that there are rotten apples in every profession. Until those rotten apples are removed then parking enforcement generally will continue to feel the public's wrath.

The disparate groups across the country are coming together. The clans are gathering. If you are a council officer who thinks that you are above the law ... we are now at 'tipping point.' The British Motoring Public will not tolerate this any more.

In the coming days the landscape will change .... and the 'common man' will ensure that justice will be seen to be done in the most public of fashions.

This is Exeter

Monday, February 28, 2011,

Ex-council man walks free over map charge

A FORMER parking officer in the city has walked free from court after he admitted falsifying a map relating to a parking ticket.

Judge Graham Cottle gave Geoffrey Urwin an absolute discharge and questioned why the case had ever been brought to Exeter Crown Court.

Urwin, 43, of Oxford Road, St James, had falsified a document used in a motorist's appeal against a parking ticket. The court heard he had since lost his job.

The defendant was going to deny the charge but changed his plea after Judge Cottle said he thought an absolute discharge was appropriate.

Urwin admitted that, without reasonable excuse or justification, he willfully misconducted himself, by falsifying a map used in a parking penalty notice proceeding.

The charge said it happened between June 1 and June 30 last year, when the defendant was a parking support team leader with the council.

He was accused of doctoring a map, which was presented to a traffic penalty tribunal after a motorist appealed against a parking ticket issued to him in Exeter.

Prosecutor Andrew Macfarlane said that the motorist was someone who had a "campaign with others".

Mr Macfarlane said: "He deliberately parked in a parking bay where he believed markings were not entirely accurate and declined to put money in the meter."

He said that the parking attendant recorded it as the wrong space in Southernhay, while trying to show the position of the parking bay.

"The defendant decided to doctor it and place it in the correct designation with where the car was, falsifying that document," said the prosecutor.

"The policy of the council is, if that error is found, rather than falsifying the document, the parking charge is abandoned.

"The defendant has admitted he doctored the plan and blames others in the council for being involved."

Judge Cottle said: "Does the crown court exist to deal with this?"

The prosecutor replied that a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer had made an "exhaustive analysis" of the case. Judge Cottle said: "He'll get an absolute discharge if convicted….That is what the county council should be about, not this kind of court."

The judge, who was due to sentence a rapist and also a man who had killed a pedestrian through careless driving later in the day, said he was dealing with cases of "immense seriousness" and should not have to deal with one of this kind. He added no criticism was intended of the prosecutor.

Mr Macfarlane replied that common law meant the case had to be dealt with at crown court.

Defence counsel Nicholas Bradley said Urwin had no criminal record and had lost his job since this incident.

"He was asked to leave and he did," said Mr Bradley.

Judge Cottle said about the offence: "He probably accepts he did something he shouldn't."

After the guilty plea and sentencing, Judge Cottle said the offence would not rank as a criminal conviction.

Urwin told the Echo after the hearing: "I'm extremely relieved. That's it."

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Is this a traffic sign?

According to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal ... the mantra they chant is 'as long as no reasonable motorist could be misled' ... and 'the meaning of the restriction is clear' ...

However, Manuel, let me explain ....
and sorry to be pedantic but the law is so ... and many people pore over matters to ensure that there is no confusion, but when confusion reigns ... lawyers earn their money ... and Judges clarify the law (and they do not wear wigs Karl Pilkington as disguises so that they don't get recognised ... although Judge Cottle in the Peter Harry case may well buy a blonde one after deciding that forgery by a council officer was a 'trivial matter.' That may make 32 million motorists a tad angry).

Meanwhile, back to traffic signing law which, is as boring as watching yellow paint dry ... traffic signs (as prescribed by TSRGD 2002 referenced at Sction 64 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984) must be of the colour, shape and size of the 'pictures and dimensions' in the books that clever people spent lots of time making ... otherwise they are not traffic signs!!! If they are not 'traffic signs' they are not legal, something that the Traffic Penalty Tribunal adjudicators seem to find difficulty in grasping (although PATAS adjudicators seem to understand what the law requires them to do).

So, in the world of the 'independent' Manchester based TPT (who receive 60p from every ticket issued), if the meaning of the sign is clear ... then that is good enough ....

Don't laugh ...

Would a ticket be valid at this location?

Or this one?

or ... and if you've had a little drink or two and starting to slur ...

... or feel as though the living dead are being paid from the public purse ...

... so, Mr. Parking Adjudicator ... the meaning of the sign below is quite clear but it ain't a traffic sign as required by Section 64 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 or prescribed by the strict and pedantic diagrams of TSRGD 2002 so check out the words of Justices

Rix, Ouseley and Bennett

Would any reasonable motorist be misled? Of course not but it ain't legal ... and nor is the fine!

Blog Archive

only search Neil Herron Blog