Merton Council has refused to publish the advice it gives traffic wardens on how flexible they should be in interpreting parking bylaws.
After reporting many extraordinary tales from motorists, the Wimbledon Guardian launched its Parking Madness series this year to highlight these stories and hold the authority to account.
Merton Council, like all councils, is given statutory guidance by the Department for Transport (2004) stating it should publish parking protocols to show motorists it is exercising its powers “flexibly and judge each case on its merits”.
In July, a council spokeswoman said this document comprised a handbook given to civil enforcement officers (CEOs), but would not release a copy.
Known as an Enforcement Code of Practice, or traffic warden's 'bible', it is readily available on other London councils' websites, including Richmond-upon-Thames, Westminster, and Islington.
Last month, our request under the Freedom of Information Act was also rejected, on the grounds that more detailed guidance would be published “by the end of the year”.
We spoke to a former Merton parking warden about what guidance he was given about flexibility during his six years issuing tickets until he retired – at a time when the council went from having eight CEOs to 31 today.
He said: “There used to be a handbook.
“They had about three sheets of A4 when I was a parking officer which was their firm but fair policy, but where that is now I have no idea.
“Someone showed it to me. It wasn’t particularly comprehensive.
“I was always told that we always gave five minutes before giving someone a ticket – that’s where that came from.
“What have they got to hide?”