|Local councils have been getting themselves into a mess by ignoring the letter of regulations on imposing fines for parking incorrectly|
Unfortunately for the councils concerned, some of the persecuted motorists have chosen to fight back.
Sunderland Council set up a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) around the city centre but it failed to enact a Controlled Parking Zone Order to give the zone legal status.
Sunderland Council is conducting a review of all aspects of its parking system. The council's line is that it has started the process by repaying 'the majority' of people who received a ticket from an unauthorized attendant for parking in a taxi rank. The council also plans to pay refunds to 182 disabled badge holders, who parked in loading bays.
Sunderland Council is also investigating why recommendations made in 2001 by consultants Faber Maunsell were not implemented. The consultancy firm was hired when the council took over parking enforcement from police.
Nick Freeman, a solicitor who specializes in finding legal loopholes to benefit the rich & famous, has found that Rochdale Council has been issuing invalid parking tickets since July 2004. By law, the tickets should have been issued to the owner of the illegally parked vehicle but the council's minions have been issuing then to the driver of the vehicle. Anyone who has received one of these illegal parking tickets, Mr. Freeman says, is entitled to their money back.
Blackburn with Darwen Council
Blackburn with Darwen Council realised it was breaching a ruling made by the National Parking Adjudication Service (NPAS) in April 2003 only after being informed of the offence by the Lancashire Evening Telegraph.
Parking activist Neil Herron said: "This throws into question the whole legality of Blackburn with Darwen's council's parking regime. They have taken £3,180 that they shouldn't have and this is not the way for a council to be running the borough. They are displaying an utter arrogance and must realise that they have a duty to give that money back. That money is an item of unlawful income and if it has entered their accounts, they could be guilty of false accounting. How many more motorists would have received illegally issued tickets had the Lancashire Evening Telegraph not highlighted this issue? What has been unleashed across the country with private companies running parking regimes for profit is just resentment from city traders, businesses and members of the public."
Robin de Crittenden, who had been refusing to pay a parking fine until Sandwell MBC took him to court and secured a proper conviction, has proved his point. The council decided in September 2005 not to pursue the matter, which just proves that standing up for one's legal rights can pay off occasionally.
Read Garbagegate's original report from February 2005 here.
The National Parking Adjudication Service considers appeals by motorists whose vehicles have been issued with a local council Penalty Charge Notice. The Department of Constitutional Affairs and the Law Society are both investigating complaints made against the NPAS, which touts itself as a court of law but, when challenged, admits that it is actually a tribunal, not a court of law.
Interestingly, if the NPAS is not a court of law within the meaning of Article 234 EC (of the European Union), its decision to give Sunderland's parking regulations a clean bill of health (among others) contravenes Article 6 of The European Convention on Human Rights. And anyone whose individual rights have been denied to make parking more 'efficient' is entitled to challenge any illegally imposed parking fines, clog the legal system and help it to collapse under the weight of its own bureaucracy.