Please Support this Legal Challenge

September 27, 2008

“The sword of justice has no scabbard.” (Antione De Riveral)

Neil Herron

Neil Herron outside the Royal Courts of Justice

Last Thursday 25th September the parking campaigner Neil Herron made an application to the High Court for permission to seek leave for Judicial Review.

This Judicial Review comes about as a result of 55 parking tickets that Neil took to appeal against Sunderland Council. Despite overwhelming evidence of non-compliant lines, signs and parking bays the appeals were refused. The Council won.

If the Judicial Review is successful it will –

1. Invalidate the vast majority of Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) in the country;

2. Force Councils to ensure that all signs and road markings comply with the law before they can start enforcement; and

3. Demonstrate that the parking adjudication services are not independent of the Councils, as they claim.

This is the first time that anyone has mounted a legal challenge against what we all know to be the “tax farming” activities of the Local Councils. Neil’s success will result in the refund of millions of tickets.

Motorists are the most persecuted members of society. High fuel prices and tax, increases in the road fund license, congestion charges, road pricing, speed cameras, moving traffic violations and parking wardens.

I, for one have had enough of being ripped off. Anything we can do to stand up to the bullies and inject some common sense and fairness into the proceedings has my full support.

For anyone who has been helped or entertained by this website over the past two years – and there are many of you out there – head over to Neil’s website and make a donation. We must stand united in support of Neil. What he is doing, at great personal risk to himself, is for the benefit of every single motorist.

The website is called The Motorists Legal Challenge Fund and you will find full details of how to make a donation.

This is the beginning of the end for those Local Authorities who have been operating outside the law.

Make it Happen. Please Give Generously.

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Where Does the Money Go?

June 5, 2008

The following was posted to the site as a comment by a reader, John. In his words:

There is an aspect to the whole story which has not yet been covered in the media.

That is the pernicious role of the private enforcement contractors engaged by many Councils to run their extortion businesses, for example NCP Services (owned by aggressive private equity investor 3i).

As you will know, Waltham Forest has agreed to refund every penalty illegally levied for an unlawful yellow box in Leytonstone. However, they have also now revealed that the council tax payers of the borough will not be getting a refund from NCP Services.

The contractor will get to keep the fee it received for each paid PCN. It also won’t have to pay anything towards the administration costs of re-contacting all those who were fined.

Waltham Forest is currently refusing to reveal how much is paid to NCP Services for each PCN. They say that disclosing the information might “weaken their [NCP’s]competitive advantage”. Never mind accountability for wasting public funds. We wouldn’t want a £140 million pound private company to suffer a weakened competitive advantage, would we?

Let’s postulate that NCP gets 20 quid for each paid PCN. Let’s say that there are 4000 paid PCNs to refund for this box. That’s an ADDITIONAL £80,000 squandered for no good reason. A very expensive mistake. That’s ONE box. Big problem.

You can see why councils aren’t so keen to give refunds, and why Nick Lester repeatedly trots out the argument that refunds are not a good use of public money. No, they are not. That is exactly the point. But the nuance is that the fines themselves are not and never were public money, since that is money to which the council has no claim. The fees paid to NCP and others ARE public money, and that money is being irresponsibly squandered because of the nature of the commercial contracts into which councils have entered. That is maladministration, however you look at it.

It isn’t the fault of innocent motorists. It isn’t the fault of NCP Services either. You can’t blame a private company for aggressively pursuing profit. But the aggressive pursuit of profit has no place in law enforcement. It actively encourages non-compliance with unprofitable laws and completely destroys accountability.

Parking/traffic enforcement may seem like a parochial issue, but in fact these are important questions of democracy and the rule of law.


The Voices of Reason

January 4, 2008

“It is hard to believe that prosecuting more and more people every year is the best way of securing a good-tempered community that accepts codes of conduct designed for everyone’s safety and convenience” (Professor Jackson)

roadaccidentscover.jpgThe above quotation comes from a book I have been reading over the Christmas break entitled “Road Accidents; Prevent or Punish” by the late J J Leeming. It was originally published in 1969 and reprinted in 2007 thanks to the efforts of the Association of British Drivers.

The sad thing is that this book hardly required any revision. It is as relevant today as it was way back then, around the time when I passed my driving test. Read the rest of this entry »


Sending in the Heavies

December 1, 2007

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” (Isaac Asimov, Foundation)

I received this cry for help from Louise a few days ago. I thought it warranted a post of its own as it is not a totally uncommon situation:

“I just received a bill of £1060.14 from collection services used by Ealing for stopping in a box junction on 29.01.07 and 06.02.07. I never received any notices to this day but this bill. A warrant of execution has been issued and they now have power to collect the money. On the letter my name is incorrect. I don’t know how to start. I need help I know I should write letters but stating what?

All help most welcome.”

Two PCNs issued at that time would have racked up a total of £310 – £150 each plus a £5 debt registration fee. So where does the other £750.14 come from? This is clearly outrageous.

This situation is slightly outside my personal area of experience and expertise, but as I understand it the correct thing to do is to file a late Statutory Declaration which will force the bailiffs to back off while things get sorted out. You can download the form and a helpful guide from this page on the HM Court Service website.

Alternatively you can get some quality help from the Bailiff Advice Online website set up by a campaigning colleague of mine, Sheila Harding. What Sheila doesn’t know on the subject of bailiffs isn’t worth knowing.

There are contact details on the site but if you want instant help for only £1 per minute then phone 0906 550 0145 between 8:30 am and 7:00 pm.


Significant Adjudication

November 6, 2007

Finally, after many unsuccessful attempts we have managed to get an Adjudicator to rule on the wording of an Islington moving traffic PCN. The appeal was allowed. All Islington moving traffic PCNs issued since early December 2006 are unlawful.

The Adjudicator’s reasons were simple. If the legislation says something must be stated on the PCN then it is a mandatory requirement. Ignore it or modify it at your peril.

This was no snap decision either. The Adjudicator reserved his decision so that he could go away and think about it and, presumably, consult his colleagues.

The implication is that Islington, Hillingdon and Waltham Forest PCNs are unlawful and can be challenged on the basis of their wording. Read the rest of this entry »


Wish You Were Here

August 26, 2007

I thought I might have a rest from the subject of traffic enforcement for a couple of weeks while on holiday, but here in Vancouver there is a story that I just had to report on.

The City’s municipal workers have been on strike since July over the failure to agree anew employment contract. The libraries are being picketed, some garbage is piling up (although I haven’t seen any myself), but what really caught my eye is the fact that the ‘Meter Maids’ are on strike.

So, does this mean traffic chaos? Well no, everything seems to be running smoothly thank you. Motorists seem to be parking sensibly; they are just not putting any money in the parking meters.

So who needs traffic enforcement? Well, obviously the Vancouver City Officials. They can see a large proportion of the $25-$30 million revenue that they rely on just disappearing out of the window.

When the strike first started, press releases urged motorists to “keep plugging those parking meters”. If we are to believe the stories, then there are a handful of dedicated managers still handing out tickets. I personally have not seen a single parking meter that does not show “00:00”.

One group of activists has gone so far as to sabotage 300 parking meters to make sure that the City cannot collect parking revenue and then not pay the workers.

Take heart, UK motorists. You are not alone. Traffic enforcement appears to be an emotive subject here in Canada also.

As I see it, this strike only goes to prove that, as in the UK, parking enforcement is a revenue raising scam. In the absence of enforcement, the motorists are happier, the traffic is flowing freely and safely, and the only casualty is the City’s budget.


Derailed

April 30, 2007

Shafted by Silverlink Trains

No matter how hard you try it seems that just you can’t avoid being ‘stung’ in today’s penalty obsessed society. Nanny State is ever vigilant, ready to punish you for the slightest mistake.

I travelled into London on Saturday to attend a meeting of the Association of British Drivers. Ironically I decided take the train; it was a fine Spring day, the venue is within walking distance of Euston Station, and parking in that area is difficult and expensive. Contribute less pollution and get some healthy exercise; how socially responsible is that! Read the rest of this entry »