Parking 'blunder' could cost council millions

Wimbledon Guardian: Fair parking campaigner Nigel Wise says Merton Council's off-street parking by-law is out of date and invalid Fair parking campaigner Nigel Wise says Merton Council's off-street parking by-law is out of date and invalid

A fair parking crusader who has clawed back £1m in unfair fines for motorists claims an extraordinary oversight at Merton Council could pave the way for £10m in refunds.

Nigel Wise claims Merton Council failed to properly update a bylaw underpinning its right to charge motorists for using car parks, known as a traffic management order (TMO) – despite a warning by MPs six years ago.

Mr Wise, 59, was the driving force in getting Richmond Council to refund £1.1m to motorists after he challenged the legality of its mobile CCTV enforcement vehicles.

He discovered the “error” at Merton after taking on the case of Debbie King, who was fined by Merton Council after her valid parking ticket became unreadable when it curled up on her car window.

Mr Wise has raised the issue with the leader of Merton Council, Stephen Alambritis, and has called for an urgent investigation into the matter.

He said: “The council leader needs to launch an urgent review into this and suspend its off-street parking restrictions immediately; otherwise the cost to the public purse could be even greater.

“This is a serious situation that could impact on car parking charges going back several years and cost the council £10m in refunds – and that’s a conservative estimate.”

Mr Wise said Merton had not provided him with a TMO that complies with the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act, the law which underpins the council’s right to charge for off-street parking.

Instead, it has produced a TMO drawn up in 1979 under the 1967 Road Traffic Regulation Act, which was completely repealed in 2004 after the 1984 Act replaced it.

This means, he said, the council can not lawfully issue penalty charge notices (PCNs), or even charge motorists, for using their car parks across the borough.

Merton Council’s cabinet member for performance and implementation, Councillor Mark Betteridge, said: “The TMO we use fully complies with the requirements of current legislation.

“As is normal practice across local authorities, we use the original 1979 TMO which was amended in 1985 and further amended in 1995 to ensure the order is in accordance with current legislation.”

But three civil servants working in other London council’s parking departments have examined this case and concluded Merton should have revoked the 1979 TMO instead of continuing to amend it.

One said: “It does demonstrate though that Merton does not understand where their power comes from and makes them look incompetent.”

The Department of Transport issued guidance in 2008, which confirmed a council’s power to manage off-street parking is derived from the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

It added: “Flawed orders... may be unenforceable and can damage both the aims of civil parking enforcement and the public perception of how it is managed.”

And an earlier report by MPs, on Parliament’s transport select committee, said councils needed a clear legal basis for their traffic management work, and the public “needs to be able to see and understand the rules in a simple and straightforward text”.

The 2006 report said: “Those local authorities who are guilty of this maladministration need to remedy the position without delay.”

 

Comments (14)

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12:24pm Thu 30 Aug 12

hawk1979 says...

Do this mean that Merton will not be having Parking Wardens ticketing people for awhile. No of course not, and will Merton pay money back to people who recieved ticked, No
Do this mean that Merton will not be having Parking Wardens ticketing people for awhile. No of course not, and will Merton pay money back to people who recieved ticked, No hawk1979
  • Score: 0

2:09pm Thu 30 Aug 12

tjames says...

small claims court
small claims court tjames
  • Score: 0

5:59pm Thu 30 Aug 12

Tobermory says...

Is this the same Mr Wise who was recently theatened with being 'banned' from attending adjudications due to inappropriate language, shady practices and working to a hidden agenda? Or maybe it is the same Mr Wise that was banned from a leading consumer parking campaigning website 'Notomob' due to his behaviour? Maybe if and when the money is refunded this story will be newsworthy but unsubstantiated claims by someone with his own political agenda that are both missleading and untrue should not be published unless of course the Guardian also has its own agenda rather than just printing the 'news'?
Is this the same Mr Wise who was recently theatened with being 'banned' from attending adjudications due to inappropriate language, shady practices and working to a hidden agenda? Or maybe it is the same Mr Wise that was banned from a leading consumer parking campaigning website 'Notomob' due to his behaviour? Maybe if and when the money is refunded this story will be newsworthy but unsubstantiated claims by someone with his own political agenda that are both missleading and untrue should not be published unless of course the Guardian also has its own agenda rather than just printing the 'news'? Tobermory
  • Score: 0

8:05am Fri 31 Aug 12

Mordenman says...

Treat this guy with a bit of caution - he is in for himself only, for the publicity and the fees.

By all means challenge the Council and keep up the pressure, they are driven by greed alone. This is what is behind the Hartfield road bus lane and the Dorset Road Junction. The Council is actually guilty of abuse of power by using that power to run an extortion racket.
Treat this guy with a bit of caution - he is in for himself only, for the publicity and the fees. By all means challenge the Council and keep up the pressure, they are driven by greed alone. This is what is behind the Hartfield road bus lane and the Dorset Road Junction. The Council is actually guilty of abuse of power by using that power to run an extortion racket. Mordenman
  • Score: 0

9:13am Fri 31 Aug 12

Tobermory says...

Essentially the way the 'news story' is worded, the Guardian are informing the public that the Council are not entitled to charge for parking in its off-street car parks. Maybe some of the motorists that are foolish enough to believe this story and incure penalties should look to getting 'refunds' from the Guardian and not the Council!
Mr Wise has also made accusations that Westminster Council has been acting outside the law which subsequently have been proven false none of this is mentioned in the article, one wonders why?
PATAS the independant adjudicator recently criticised him for actually losing his 'clients' money due to his behaviour. In several cases the local authority offered to cancel the Penalty charges at the appeal stage, instead Mr Wise forced the cases before an adjudicator and then lost resulting in the driver having to pay £130 in each case.
PATAS hears cases from Merton Council on a weekly basis some are won by the motorist and some are lost, maybe if the Guardian reported on these cases that have been proven rather than pander to the whims of the likes of Mr Wise then it would actually contain news rather than 'opinion' dressed up as a news story.
The Guardian has a duty to provide balanced reporting so how about reporting on cases that have found the driver to have lied or been found guilty of 'Parking madness' by the adjudication service for a change?
Essentially the way the 'news story' is worded, the Guardian are informing the public that the Council are not entitled to charge for parking in its off-street car parks. Maybe some of the motorists that are foolish enough to believe this story and incure penalties should look to getting 'refunds' from the Guardian and not the Council! Mr Wise has also made accusations that Westminster Council has been acting outside the law which subsequently have been proven false none of this is mentioned in the article, one wonders why? PATAS the independant adjudicator recently criticised him for actually losing his 'clients' money due to his behaviour. In several cases the local authority offered to cancel the Penalty charges at the appeal stage, instead Mr Wise forced the cases before an adjudicator and then lost resulting in the driver having to pay £130 in each case. PATAS hears cases from Merton Council on a weekly basis some are won by the motorist and some are lost, maybe if the Guardian reported on these cases that have been proven rather than pander to the whims of the likes of Mr Wise then it would actually contain news rather than 'opinion' dressed up as a news story. The Guardian has a duty to provide balanced reporting so how about reporting on cases that have found the driver to have lied or been found guilty of 'Parking madness' by the adjudication service for a change? Tobermory
  • Score: 0

9:59am Fri 31 Aug 12

tjames says...

pickles should stop this abuse by all councils--we need tax cuts
pickles should stop this abuse by all councils--we need tax cuts tjames
  • Score: 0

11:55am Fri 31 Aug 12

Twick. Mike says...

To set the record straight Mr Wise does not charge any fees whatsoever.

Mr Wise was responsible for causing Richmond on Thames Council to refund over 18500 motorists a total of over £1.1M in unlawful penalties. This after he personally brought the matter to the attention of Lord True Richmond Council's leader. Lord True subsequently publicly praised Mr Wise for his 'good old British doggedness.

Mr Wise was also more recently involved in Herts. CC refunding over £1M to unlawfully fined motorists.

Mr Wise has conducted a great number of appeals at the Parking Tribunals only losing two of them. Both of these penalties were paid on behalf of the Motorists concerned by Mr Wise himself.

The adjudicators complaint regarding 'inappropriate language' was because Mr Wise stated the fact that 'it seems to depend on what day of the month it is wether an adjudicator allows an appeal or not. Adjudicators despite their protestations are not above criticism. They are routinely responsible for incorrect decisions. The adjudicators complaint did not stop Mr Wise from subsequently winning another important appeal.

More power to Mr Wise and people like him. If Merton Council think that a few ill judged posts will brush him aside they need to think again. Without people like Mr Wise Councils think that they have a licence to print money from unlawfully issued penalties.

Printing the News and exposing malpractice in local government is an enshrined right of the Media.

Quote from today's Independent:

Local Government Minister Bob Neill said: "There is no excuse for town halls using parking fines and motorists as cash cows. There are plenty of other ways for councils to raise extra income or make savings like better procurement and sharing back-office services.

"We want to see councils use parking to support the high street and help their local shops prosper. That's why we have ended the last government's requirements to limit spaces, push up parking charges and encourage aggressive parking enforcement."

A Fair Parking regime is now what we have in Richmond. This is not what is in place in Merton. Merton's parking policies can only be described as draconian.
To set the record straight Mr Wise does not charge any fees whatsoever. Mr Wise was responsible for causing Richmond on Thames Council to refund over 18500 motorists a total of over £1.1M in unlawful penalties. This after he personally brought the matter to the attention of Lord True Richmond Council's leader. Lord True subsequently publicly praised Mr Wise for his 'good old British doggedness. Mr Wise was also more recently involved in Herts. CC refunding over £1M to unlawfully fined motorists. Mr Wise has conducted a great number of appeals at the Parking Tribunals only losing two of them. Both of these penalties were paid on behalf of the Motorists concerned by Mr Wise himself. The adjudicators complaint regarding 'inappropriate language' was because Mr Wise stated the fact that 'it seems to depend on what day of the month it is wether an adjudicator allows an appeal or not. Adjudicators despite their protestations are not above criticism. They are routinely responsible for incorrect decisions. The adjudicators complaint did not stop Mr Wise from subsequently winning another important appeal. More power to Mr Wise and people like him. If Merton Council think that a few ill judged posts will brush him aside they need to think again. Without people like Mr Wise Councils think that they have a licence to print money from unlawfully issued penalties. Printing the News and exposing malpractice in local government is an enshrined right of the Media. Quote from today's Independent: Local Government Minister Bob Neill said: "There is no excuse for town halls using parking fines and motorists as cash cows. There are plenty of other ways for councils to raise extra income or make savings like better procurement and sharing back-office services. "We want to see councils use parking to support the high street and help their local shops prosper. That's why we have ended the last government's requirements to limit spaces, push up parking charges and encourage aggressive parking enforcement." A Fair Parking regime is now what we have in Richmond. This is not what is in place in Merton. Merton's parking policies can only be described as draconian. Twick. Mike
  • Score: 0

2:20pm Fri 31 Aug 12

Smart Cookie says...

It will useful to set the record straight and correct impertinent misinformation that has already been commented.

Far from being a misguided and dubious character Mr Wise, as anyone who knows him is aware, he is the opposite. The PATAS adjudication referred to was a political hatchet job contrived to discredit him because of his many appeal successes against misbehaving councils on behalf of wrongly penalised drivers.

This same PATAS adjudication failed to report the near-libellous allegations made by Westminster Council against Mr Wise and another campaigner in attempt to discredit them and also failed to report that this laughingly-called impartial tribunal had secretly given assistance to the Council prior to the appeal hearing to help their case in which the council actually failed to demonstrate, as they were required to do, the adequacy of their CCTV enforcement equipment. If and when PATAS is shown to be independent, impartial and without political tendencies Mr Tobermory will be able to rely on their findings.

As to the generally commendable NoToMob about which Mr Tobermory appears to know nothing, Mr Wise has been one of its best assets and an energetic champion of its work. Sadly, some implied slanderous comments about Mr Wise that have never been substantiated, made by a couple of un-named persons responsible for their website has caused resignations from the NoToMob from members who are disgusted with this deplorable situation.

Mr Tobermory should also not peddle false statements about drivers losing money as a result of Mr Wise’s assistance. Of a huge number of drivers who have won their appeals and saved a great deal of money as result of Mr Wise’s strenuous efforts only two cases were lost and neither driver had to pay a penny. In one of these cases Mr Wise paid the penalty himself, that being on top of his own expenses for which he has never charged anyone.

As to Mr Tobermory’s statement that “claims in this newspaper are misleading and untrue”, as long as he continues to know nothing about the facts of the present appalling situation that has been discovered in relation to Merton’s parking enforcement, he would be well advised to refrain from commenting in ignorance until he does. He has much to learn.

The basis of Merton’s car parking enforcement has been discovered to be a shambles as will become clear in the fullness of time.
It will useful to set the record straight and correct impertinent misinformation that has already been commented. Far from being a misguided and dubious character Mr Wise, as anyone who knows him is aware, he is the opposite. The PATAS adjudication referred to was a political hatchet job contrived to discredit him because of his many appeal successes against misbehaving councils on behalf of wrongly penalised drivers. This same PATAS adjudication failed to report the near-libellous allegations made by Westminster Council against Mr Wise and another campaigner in attempt to discredit them and also failed to report that this laughingly-called impartial tribunal had secretly given assistance to the Council prior to the appeal hearing to help their case in which the council actually failed to demonstrate, as they were required to do, the adequacy of their CCTV enforcement equipment. If and when PATAS is shown to be independent, impartial and without political tendencies Mr Tobermory will be able to rely on their findings. As to the generally commendable NoToMob about which Mr Tobermory appears to know nothing, Mr Wise has been one of its best assets and an energetic champion of its work. Sadly, some implied slanderous comments about Mr Wise that have never been substantiated, made by a couple of un-named persons responsible for their website has caused resignations from the NoToMob from members who are disgusted with this deplorable situation. Mr Tobermory should also not peddle false statements about drivers losing money as a result of Mr Wise’s assistance. Of a huge number of drivers who have won their appeals and saved a great deal of money as result of Mr Wise’s strenuous efforts only two cases were lost and neither driver had to pay a penny. In one of these cases Mr Wise paid the penalty himself, that being on top of his own expenses for which he has never charged anyone. As to Mr Tobermory’s statement that “claims in this newspaper are misleading and untrue”, as long as he continues to know nothing about the facts of the present appalling situation that has been discovered in relation to Merton’s parking enforcement, he would be well advised to refrain from commenting in ignorance until he does. He has much to learn. The basis of Merton’s car parking enforcement has been discovered to be a shambles as will become clear in the fullness of time. Smart Cookie
  • Score: 0

12:47am Sat 1 Sep 12

Tobermory says...

Well lets wait and see how much of this 10 million is refunded shall we before we start knighting mr Wise for his charity work, as I suspect it will be roughly the cost of my weekly Wimbledon Guardian.
Meanwhile I'm sure all the residents of Wimbledon unlike myself are backing mr Wise and cannot wait to see £10m of their Council tax used to refund drivers found guilty of contravening the car park regulations rather than schools, transport, social care etc.
Well lets wait and see how much of this 10 million is refunded shall we before we start knighting mr Wise for his charity work, as I suspect it will be roughly the cost of my weekly Wimbledon Guardian. Meanwhile I'm sure all the residents of Wimbledon unlike myself are backing mr Wise and cannot wait to see £10m of their Council tax used to refund drivers found guilty of contravening the car park regulations rather than schools, transport, social care etc. Tobermory
  • Score: 0

12:47am Sat 1 Sep 12

You don't fool me says...

Making unsubstantiated claims is par for the course for Mr Wise.
Has the Auditor for the Council accounts been informed of illegally derived income in the coffers for the last 6 years?
Did the accounts get signed off and closed over the last 6 years?
Because unless this was the case the money will not be paid back as well Mr Wise knows. But hey! Don't let the facts get in the way of a non event being pedaled as a newsworthy story.
Making unsubstantiated claims is par for the course for Mr Wise. Has the Auditor for the Council accounts been informed of illegally derived income in the coffers for the last 6 years? Did the accounts get signed off and closed over the last 6 years? Because unless this was the case the money will not be paid back as well Mr Wise knows. But hey! Don't let the facts get in the way of a non event being pedaled as a newsworthy story. You don't fool me
  • Score: 0

9:17am Sat 1 Sep 12

Twick. Mike says...

Some of the Richmond upon Thames accounts had been signed off. The refunds went right back to the start of the unlawful enforcement for over two years. Therefore even if accounts are signed off this does not prevent any refunds being made.

There is nothing to preclude this from happening. In fact I understand that Richmond's legal advice was that they need not refund anyone.

I am informed that objections to Council Auditors for accounts in relation to parking matters rarely if ever succeed unless they are backed by adjudications.

No correctly run Council has a right to retain any monies that it has obtained through any unlawful activity. Only a 'fool' would think otherwise.

Merton would be best advised to follow the meritorious example set by Lord True. This has drawn widespread praise from his electorate.

Would anyone suggest that a thief should not repay his victim because to do so would mean that he was unable to feed his children?
Some of the Richmond upon Thames accounts had been signed off. The refunds went right back to the start of the unlawful enforcement for over two years. Therefore even if accounts are signed off this does not prevent any refunds being made. There is nothing to preclude this from happening. In fact I understand that Richmond's legal advice was that they need not refund anyone. I am informed that objections to Council Auditors for accounts in relation to parking matters rarely if ever succeed unless they are backed by adjudications. No correctly run Council has a right to retain any monies that it has obtained through any unlawful activity. Only a 'fool' would think otherwise. Merton would be best advised to follow the meritorious example set by Lord True. This has drawn widespread praise from his electorate. Would anyone suggest that a thief should not repay his victim because to do so would mean that he was unable to feed his children? Twick. Mike
  • Score: 0

10:31am Sun 2 Sep 12

Tobermory says...

If repealling the 1967 RTRA made every Traffic order made under it invalid then 1984 must have been a very busy year in Town halls as they would have had to introduce 1000s of new orders after consulting and advertising them in the press.
It could just however be that any subordinate law made under the RTRA 1967 remained valid as the Council states and any legally trained person would know that.
No doubt the Council has been to adjudication with PCNs issued in the car parks and had to produce the 'off street parking places order' (not a TMO, mr Wise those are for on the highway!) for scrutiny by the adjudicators. It is therefore highly surprising that for 20 years not a single adjudicator has noticed the order is invalid. It could be that Mr Wise knows more about the law than both the Councils legal department and the adjudication services lawyers or maybe he doesn't and is just making libelous claims, time will tell.
If repealling the 1967 RTRA made every Traffic order made under it invalid then 1984 must have been a very busy year in Town halls as they would have had to introduce 1000s of new orders after consulting and advertising them in the press. It could just however be that any subordinate law made under the RTRA 1967 remained valid as the Council states and any legally trained person would know that. No doubt the Council has been to adjudication with PCNs issued in the car parks and had to produce the 'off street parking places order' (not a TMO, mr Wise those are for on the highway!) for scrutiny by the adjudicators. It is therefore highly surprising that for 20 years not a single adjudicator has noticed the order is invalid. It could be that Mr Wise knows more about the law than both the Councils legal department and the adjudication services lawyers or maybe he doesn't and is just making libelous claims, time will tell. Tobermory
  • Score: 0

11:19am Sun 2 Sep 12

Smart Cookie says...

Mr Tobermory correctly says time will tell. So, then why doesn't he stop his ill-informed ranting, vague theories and petulant comments, and wait and see?

If he does manage to find something useful to contribute and is as knowledgeable as he imagines himself to be then he should ask Merton Council why their off-street parking order is boldly entitled at the top "Traffic Management Order" (TMO).
Mr Tobermory correctly says time will tell. So, then why doesn't he stop his ill-informed ranting, vague theories and petulant comments, and wait and see? If he does manage to find something useful to contribute and is as knowledgeable as he imagines himself to be then he should ask Merton Council why their off-street parking order is boldly entitled at the top "Traffic Management Order" (TMO). Smart Cookie
  • Score: 0

12:57pm Sun 2 Sep 12

Twick. Mike says...

This sounds like the usual same bluster from Council Officers who often make failed attempts at defending the indefensible.

It was exactly the same at Richmond where a false press release was issued. This was drawn up from information provided by a highly placed Council Officer who later resigned. It was issued by a Cabinet Member. The release wrongly stated that everything was in order. This Cabinet Member ceased to have her name attached to further press releases. An apology was later issued for this concocted claim by another Council Officer.

It was also the same with Herts. CC where Council Officers and Councillors repeatedly attempted to brush off Mr Wise's warnings that they were acting unlawfully. Herts. CC were left with egg on their faces when Mr Wise's claims were found to be correct and they had to refund over £1M to motorists.

Smart Cookie is also correct. The latest amendment to the original Order upon which Merton rely is entitled as he details. Strange how other Councils also refer to their Off Street Parking Places Orders as being TMO's as well.

The latest schedule to the amendment that Merton rely on states that the charge for the Hartfield Road car park is 20p. per hour. I am informed that this amendment took Merton a week to find.

Mrs King paid £10 to park. That would have entitled her to park for 40 hours! Perhaps she is due another refund on top of the one that she is due for her PCN that Merton refused to cancel.
This sounds like the usual same bluster from Council Officers who often make failed attempts at defending the indefensible. It was exactly the same at Richmond where a false press release was issued. This was drawn up from information provided by a highly placed Council Officer who later resigned. It was issued by a Cabinet Member. The release wrongly stated that everything was in order. This Cabinet Member ceased to have her name attached to further press releases. An apology was later issued for this concocted claim by another Council Officer. It was also the same with Herts. CC where Council Officers and Councillors repeatedly attempted to brush off Mr Wise's warnings that they were acting unlawfully. Herts. CC were left with egg on their faces when Mr Wise's claims were found to be correct and they had to refund over £1M to motorists. Smart Cookie is also correct. The latest amendment to the original Order upon which Merton rely is entitled as he details. Strange how other Councils also refer to their Off Street Parking Places Orders as being TMO's as well. The latest schedule to the amendment that Merton rely on states that the charge for the Hartfield Road car park is 20p. per hour. I am informed that this amendment took Merton a week to find. Mrs King paid £10 to park. That would have entitled her to park for 40 hours! Perhaps she is due another refund on top of the one that she is due for her PCN that Merton refused to cancel. Twick. Mike
  • Score: 0

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