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."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

BBC News ...Private Land Parking Breaches

8 April 2011

The DVLA is giving drivers' names and addresses to some private parking firms despite breaches of the industry's voluntary code, the BBC has learned.

The DVLA's rules restrict access to the data to companies complying with the British Parking Association code. Breaches include overstating powers by threatening fines and penalties and failing to handle complaints promptly. The DVLA says it investigates alleged breaches and stops firms' access to the data if they are proven. "We have to strike a balance - allowing fair enforcement but protecting motorists," said a DVLA spokesman. The DVLA insists any firm it gives the data to must be belong to the British Parking Association's Approved Operator Scheme - which sets out how they should operate. "If it is brought to our attention that a company does not meet the necessary standards, we will immediately investigate, and if allegations are proven, stop the release of keeper information to them." Any companies failing to be "fully compliant" with the Association's Code of Practice would "not be eligible to request DVLA data". The DVLA receives an estimated £3.4m a year for providing access to drivers' names and addresses to private parking companies, but says this is to cover administrative costs.

Fines and Penalties

However, BBC One's Watchdog programme has found a number of companies were still being allowed to access private data even though they had been in breach of the scheme. As private parking companies have no powers under the criminal justice system, they cannot describe their charges as fines or penalties. One company, Searchlight Security and Parking Solutions, of Penzance, included the word "fine" on its website. It blamed this on "an oversight".

The code states: "You must not use terms which imply that you are acting under statutory authority; this will include terms such as 'fine', 'penalty' or 'penalty charge notice'." This rule also applies to any signs using these terms at a car park. The BPA has given companies in breach of this rule time to comply.

APCOA, another member of the BPA, which manages Luton and Gatwick Airport car parks, was found to have taken three months to respond to a driver's appeal when it should have done so in 14 days. It apologised, blaming an administrative error. The BPA is responsible for enforcing its own code. However, it only commits to visiting its approved operators once a year to check they are keeping to it. The BPA told Watchdog it received a number of complaints, all of which were investigated. It operates a sanctions scheme depending on the severity of the offence, which has led to two other companies being suspended in recent months.


The RAC Foundation is calling for an end to self-regulation, saying the government should regulate the industry. "It should regulate the private parking industry and insist that anyone enforcing parking regulations sticks to a government code of practice," said the RAC director, Stephen Glaister. "It is difficult for the BPA to enforce this code adequately and this is unsatisfactory," he added.

Watchdog returned to BBC One on Thursday 7 April at 2000BST. Watch online at BBC iPlayer or catch up on the latest consumer investigations at BBC Watchdog.

Know your rights

The British Parking Association's Approved Operator Scheme also states: Motorists should have five minutes grace after overstaying before a ticket goes on their car. Where a clamp is to be used the motorist should have 15 minutes grace. The standard parking charge should not exceed £75 The maximum Parking Charge must not exceed £150. Parking tickets should not be put on a vehicle until at least 30 minutes after a clamp has been removed. The maximum charge for vehicle removal should be £250 with storage charges capped at £35 per day.

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