Parking campaigner to take on Merton Council for 'curled ticket' driver

Wimbledon Guardian: The ticket curled up on the window The ticket curled up on the window

A parking campaigner who managed to claw back £1m for motorists wrongly ticketed has vowed to take on Merton Council after it fined a woman whose parking ticket “curled up”.

Nigel Wise, 59, labelled Merton Council’s decision to uphold the penalty “disgusting” and claimed its parking enforcement was unfairly “revenue driven”.

The campaigner already has an impressive record of fighting unfair penalties, having been the driving force behind Richmond Council removing mobile CCTV enforcement vehicles from the roads and refunding more than £1.1m to 18,500 motorists.

Mr Wise is taking on a new challenge in an attempt to get Merton Council to refund a parking ticket given Debbie King after her £10 ticket got wet in the rain and curled up on the windscreen obscuring the necessary details.

On appeal, Merton Council refused to see reason and upheld the fine that Mrs King paid.

Mr Wise said: “At Merton Council there is no doubt that it’s all revenue driven and it should not be.

“Their parking enforcement protocols are all out of date and not in line with other areas where they have protocols that allow for their cancellation.

“Even its website does not give any details about mitigating circumstances when sending in parking representations.”

Councillor Jeff Hanna has also lent his support to Mrs King urging the council’s officers to “bring a human face to their roles.”

In a letter to Stephen Alambritis, leader of Merton Council, he said: “You will be as concerned as I am that residents are treated reasonably, sympathetically and fairly.

“I do not know if these cases result from an unnecessarily harsh management approach, or if a few individual officers need to be advised to apply judgement more flexibly.”

Mrs King said: “Mr Wise pointed out I may have made it difficult to have it refunded by paying the fine, thereby admitting guilt.

“There could be a lesson in that maybe it is worth challenging the council rather than just giving up as I did?

“I would like to thank Mr Wise for the trouble he has taken to contact me and the efforts he is making to get my fine reimbursed.”

After speaking with Mr Wise, Paul Walshe, the council’s parking manager, agreed to look at the circumstances again, but has decided to uphold the fine.

A spokesman for Merton Council said: “We have reviewed the case as promised, and have found no grounds to overturn our decision.”


Got a story for us? Call 020 8722 6333, tweet @WimbledonNews or email: newsdesk@wimbledonguardian.co.uk.

Comments (3)

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8:48am Sat 14 Jul 12

Nigel Wise says...

I sent the following mail to councillors and officers at Merton Council on behalf of Mrs King:

Dear sirs,

Further to my earlier mails to you on the subject of Mrs King's PCN: XXXXXXXXX VRM: XXXXXXX.

I now have the benefit of having seen a copy of Mrs King's representations and Merton's notice of rejection of those representations.

The contravention is NOT for having an unrecognisable P&D ticket on display when it is observed by a CEO (ie with no clear evidence that the parking is in correct good order).

The ALLEGED contravention, for which a penalty is payable if proved is the failure of a driver to have displayed correctly a valid P&D ticket when leaving the parked vehicle.

The burden of proof of the alleged contravention lies with the Council, not Mrs King.

The FACT (which the Council seems to be not contesting) is that the alleged contravention did not occur. Mrs King did correctly display the P&D ticket which is exactly what she was required to do. Nothing more was required of her. She left her vehicle legitimately parked according to the Council's rules and requirements and incurred no financial liability to the Council.

What subsequently happened to the ticket was an act of God for which Mrs King has no liability.

It was reasonable for the CEO to issue a PCN for having reason to believe that "Mrs King had failed to display correctly the P&D ticket". He was wrong in fact but not to blame for his reasonable belief which was not correct.

The Council has long known and not disputed that Mrs King did not involve herself in the alleged contravention when she left her vehicle.

On the facts it appears fraudulent for the Council to have accepted (and certainly to retain) her payment.

The only basis for the Council lawfully to retain Mrs King's erroneous payment would be if they can prove that she departed her vehicle without correctly displaying a valid P&D ticket. The Council is unable to do this.

The Council's statement is correct:

"The onus is on you as the driver to ensure that any ticket or permit used is clearly displayed in accordance with the instructions, and in future you should check the visibility of your ticket or permit after closing your car doors and before walking away from your vehicle."

Mrs King did exactly that which is why she was not in contravention of the restrictions and the Council cannot prove otherwise.

The Council's statement is manifestly untrue:

"It is regretted that the Council is therefore unable to accept subsequent receipt of a pay and display ticket as evidence that a ticket was correctly displayed in your vehicle at the time a PCN was issued."

There is no basis in fact or law for this statement. The Council is able to conduct itself honestly in consideration of the facts at all times.

This case must be distinguished from the common case of a 'fluttering ticket' which is blown to the floor when the door is closed and the ticket is not left correctly displayed when the driver leaves the vehicle (although several parking appeals have been allowed when this has happened).

The Council is at fault (whether they previously knew it or not) for having an inadequate quality of ticket paper. That is their problem, not Mrs King's.

I would be grateful for your urgent reappraisal of this matter subsequent to a follow up story that will appear in this weeks Sutton Guardian Newspaper.

Yours sincerely

Nigel Wise.
I sent the following mail to councillors and officers at Merton Council on behalf of Mrs King: Dear sirs, Further to my earlier mails to you on the subject of Mrs King's PCN: XXXXXXXXX VRM: XXXXXXX. I now have the benefit of having seen a copy of Mrs King's representations and Merton's notice of rejection of those representations. The contravention is NOT for having an unrecognisable P&D ticket on display when it is observed by a CEO (ie with no clear evidence that the parking is in correct good order). The ALLEGED contravention, for which a penalty is payable if proved is the failure of a driver to have displayed correctly a valid P&D ticket when leaving the parked vehicle. The burden of proof of the alleged contravention lies with the Council, not Mrs King. The FACT (which the Council seems to be not contesting) is that the alleged contravention did not occur. Mrs King did correctly display the P&D ticket which is exactly what she was required to do. Nothing more was required of her. She left her vehicle legitimately parked according to the Council's rules and requirements and incurred no financial liability to the Council. What subsequently happened to the ticket was an act of God for which Mrs King has no liability. It was reasonable for the CEO to issue a PCN for having reason to believe that "Mrs King had failed to display correctly the P&D ticket". He was wrong in fact but not to blame for his reasonable belief which was not correct. The Council has long known and not disputed that Mrs King did not involve herself in the alleged contravention when she left her vehicle. On the facts it appears fraudulent for the Council to have accepted (and certainly to retain) her payment. The only basis for the Council lawfully to retain Mrs King's erroneous payment would be if they can prove that she departed her vehicle without correctly displaying a valid P&D ticket. The Council is unable to do this. The Council's statement is correct: "The onus is on you as the driver to ensure that any ticket or permit used is clearly displayed in accordance with the instructions, and in future you should check the visibility of your ticket or permit after closing your car doors and before walking away from your vehicle." Mrs King did exactly that which is why she was not in contravention of the restrictions and the Council cannot prove otherwise. The Council's statement is manifestly untrue: "It is regretted that the Council is therefore unable to accept subsequent receipt of a pay and display ticket as evidence that a ticket was correctly displayed in your vehicle at the time a PCN was issued." There is no basis in fact or law for this statement. The Council is able to conduct itself honestly in consideration of the facts at all times. This case must be distinguished from the common case of a 'fluttering ticket' which is blown to the floor when the door is closed and the ticket is not left correctly displayed when the driver leaves the vehicle (although several parking appeals have been allowed when this has happened). The Council is at fault (whether they previously knew it or not) for having an inadequate quality of ticket paper. That is their problem, not Mrs King's. I would be grateful for your urgent reappraisal of this matter subsequent to a follow up story that will appear in this weeks Sutton Guardian Newspaper. Yours sincerely Nigel Wise. Nigel Wise

8:57am Sat 14 Jul 12

Nigel Wise says...

I also sent this earlier mail:

Dear Mr Alambritis

I write to you again with reference to my earlier emails to you below. I have received no reply from you to these mails. I now appears that Councillor Jeff Hanna has become involved in this case. He has sent an open letter to you that was published in the Guardian Newspaper:

http://www.yourlocal
guardian.co.uk/yours
ay/letters/wimbledon
letters/9801724.Mert
on_Council__excessiv
ely_legalistic__over
_parking/

In this letter Cllr. Hanna states:

"As a Labour administration I believe we should be ensuring all officers bring a human face to their roles, as most already do.

Recent cases show there is room for improvement.

The most recent is that of Debbie King, who paid £10 to park in Hartfield Road but was fined, even after appealing, because her ticket curled on the dashboard."

I ask you once again to intervene and to ensure that this PCN will be refunded and thereby follow the other humanely run councils policies. Other fairly run parking departments would have automatically cancelled this PCN upon receiving the representations from the resident. I quote from councillor Hanna's open letter:

"I had a similar experience in Kingston a few months ago.

I paid for a parking ticket, put in on my dashboard, but received a penalty notice for failure to display because, my fault or otherwise, it ended up upside down.

I wrote to the council, enclosed the ticket showing payment made, and the penalty notice was cancelled.

I would have wanted Mrs King’s case to be dealt with just as sympathetically by Merton".

A copy of Mrs Kings representations are attached to this mail along with the Notice of Rejection sent by the Council's Parking Department. It is apparent that Mrs King's representations were not properly considered. Please see the email below.

Please respond to this mail and also to the resident Mrs King who received this penalty. Her email address is: Debbie@mfscheckland.
co.uk

This matter will not simply go away. The story will soon be revisited by the press. Please ensure a speedy and sympathetic outcome.

Yours sincerely

Nigel Wise.



Dear Mr Betteridge

I have sent the mail below to Chris Lee at the Council. Please intervene to ensure a speedy and just outcome to this case. I know that opposition councillors hope to make political capital out of the continuing story in the press.

Yours sincerely

Nigel Wise.

See: http://www.standard.
co.uk/news/parking-t
icket-camera-cars-ta
ken-off-road-6395952
.html ; & http://www.bbc.co.uk
/news/uk-england-lon
don-14918018

Dear Mr Lee

I refer to the following article entitled:

Merton Council parking boss would prefer ticket income to be zero

http://www.yourlocal
guardian.co.uk/news/
local/wimbledonnews/
9787579.Parking_boss
_would_prefer_ticket
_income_to_be_zero/

The article states:

But Mr Lee insisted he would prefer that figure to be zero. (ticket income).

I now refer to another article entitled:

Woman fined after parking ticket 'curls up' on window in Wimbledon

http://www.suttongua
rdian.co.uk/news/978
7114.Woman_fined_aft
er_parking_ticket__c
urls_up_/

It is apparent from this article that the lady concerned paid £10 to park. Due to the fact that it was raining hard the ticket became damp when she took it from the machine. After correctly displaying the voucher, sunlight later during the day caused it to curl up.

There can be no complaint about the CEO issuing the PCN in this case. The lady then sent in representations to the council regarding these circumstances. It appears that these representations were then irresponsibly rejected out of hand. It also appears from the response that she received that these representations were not properly considered before they were rejected.

Parts from the notice of rejection are quoted in the above article:

Merton Council said while it accepted she had not intended to park in "contravention" the ticket had been "correctly issued" and there were "no grounds" to cancel the charge.

It continued: "In future you should check the visibility of your ticket or permit after closing your car doors and before walking away from the vehicle."

It is perceptible from the above statement that the person who considered these representations totally disregarded the circumstances. The response suggests that the ticket was not displayed correctly when the lady left her vehicle. Clearly this was not the case.

Through no fault of her own the ticket that had been correctly displayed in full compliance with all obligations imposed on her subsequently curled up and became incorrectly displayed due to sunlight. It could be said that this was due to substandard paper being used.

Clearly the code 6 contravention 'parked without clearly displaying a valid pay and display ticket' did not apply in this case. The ticket was clearly displayed by Mrs. King and was valid.

I spoke to some councillors at Merton Council yesterday (Friday) regarding this. One of the Councillors informed me that the same thing had happened to his wife. I shall enquire what happened to this PCN.

I also spoke to Paul Walsh your Parking Manager. To his credit he informed me that even though the penalty of £30 had already been inappropriately paid he would personally investigate the rejection of this lady’s representations.

I have contacted the local press who intend to run a follow-up article. Your statement above together with Merton's stated acceptance that Mrs. King had not intended to park in "contravention" (not forgetting that she did NOT actually park in any contravention) should cause the penalty to be refunded forthwith.

I trust that you will ensure a speedy and just outcome to this reprehensible matter and thereby demonstrate that your statement to the press was correct.

Yours sincerely

Nigel Wise.
I also sent this earlier mail: Dear Mr Alambritis I write to you again with reference to my earlier emails to you below. I have received no reply from you to these mails. I now appears that Councillor Jeff Hanna has become involved in this case. He has sent an open letter to you that was published in the Guardian Newspaper: http://www.yourlocal guardian.co.uk/yours ay/letters/wimbledon letters/9801724.Mert on_Council__excessiv ely_legalistic__over _parking/ In this letter Cllr. Hanna states: "As a Labour administration I believe we should be ensuring all officers bring a human face to their roles, as most already do. Recent cases show there is room for improvement. The most recent is that of Debbie King, who paid £10 to park in Hartfield Road but was fined, even after appealing, because her ticket curled on the dashboard." I ask you once again to intervene and to ensure that this PCN will be refunded and thereby follow the other humanely run councils policies. Other fairly run parking departments would have automatically cancelled this PCN upon receiving the representations from the resident. I quote from councillor Hanna's open letter: "I had a similar experience in Kingston a few months ago. I paid for a parking ticket, put in on my dashboard, but received a penalty notice for failure to display because, my fault or otherwise, it ended up upside down. I wrote to the council, enclosed the ticket showing payment made, and the penalty notice was cancelled. I would have wanted Mrs King’s case to be dealt with just as sympathetically by Merton". A copy of Mrs Kings representations are attached to this mail along with the Notice of Rejection sent by the Council's Parking Department. It is apparent that Mrs King's representations were not properly considered. Please see the email below. Please respond to this mail and also to the resident Mrs King who received this penalty. Her email address is: Debbie@mfscheckland. co.uk This matter will not simply go away. The story will soon be revisited by the press. Please ensure a speedy and sympathetic outcome. Yours sincerely Nigel Wise. Dear Mr Betteridge I have sent the mail below to Chris Lee at the Council. Please intervene to ensure a speedy and just outcome to this case. I know that opposition councillors hope to make political capital out of the continuing story in the press. Yours sincerely Nigel Wise. See: http://www.standard. co.uk/news/parking-t icket-camera-cars-ta ken-off-road-6395952 .html ; & http://www.bbc.co.uk /news/uk-england-lon don-14918018 Dear Mr Lee I refer to the following article entitled: Merton Council parking boss would prefer ticket income to be zero http://www.yourlocal guardian.co.uk/news/ local/wimbledonnews/ 9787579.Parking_boss _would_prefer_ticket _income_to_be_zero/ The article states: But Mr Lee insisted he would prefer that figure to be zero. (ticket income). I now refer to another article entitled: Woman fined after parking ticket 'curls up' on window in Wimbledon http://www.suttongua rdian.co.uk/news/978 7114.Woman_fined_aft er_parking_ticket__c urls_up_/ It is apparent from this article that the lady concerned paid £10 to park. Due to the fact that it was raining hard the ticket became damp when she took it from the machine. After correctly displaying the voucher, sunlight later during the day caused it to curl up. There can be no complaint about the CEO issuing the PCN in this case. The lady then sent in representations to the council regarding these circumstances. It appears that these representations were then irresponsibly rejected out of hand. It also appears from the response that she received that these representations were not properly considered before they were rejected. Parts from the notice of rejection are quoted in the above article: Merton Council said while it accepted she had not intended to park in "contravention" the ticket had been "correctly issued" and there were "no grounds" to cancel the charge. It continued: "In future you should check the visibility of your ticket or permit after closing your car doors and before walking away from the vehicle." It is perceptible from the above statement that the person who considered these representations totally disregarded the circumstances. The response suggests that the ticket was not displayed correctly when the lady left her vehicle. Clearly this was not the case. Through no fault of her own the ticket that had been correctly displayed in full compliance with all obligations imposed on her subsequently curled up and became incorrectly displayed due to sunlight. It could be said that this was due to substandard paper being used. Clearly the code 6 contravention 'parked without clearly displaying a valid pay and display ticket' did not apply in this case. The ticket was clearly displayed by Mrs. King and was valid. I spoke to some councillors at Merton Council yesterday (Friday) regarding this. One of the Councillors informed me that the same thing had happened to his wife. I shall enquire what happened to this PCN. I also spoke to Paul Walsh your Parking Manager. To his credit he informed me that even though the penalty of £30 had already been inappropriately paid he would personally investigate the rejection of this lady’s representations. I have contacted the local press who intend to run a follow-up article. Your statement above together with Merton's stated acceptance that Mrs. King had not intended to park in "contravention" (not forgetting that she did NOT actually park in any contravention) should cause the penalty to be refunded forthwith. I trust that you will ensure a speedy and just outcome to this reprehensible matter and thereby demonstrate that your statement to the press was correct. Yours sincerely Nigel Wise. Nigel Wise

8:29pm Sat 14 Jul 12

Tobermory says...

Someone obviously has far too much time on his hands and needs to get out more!
Someone obviously has far too much time on his hands and needs to get out more! Tobermory

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