£2m parking fines in Camden are illegal
11 June 2009
ALL parking tickets issued in Camden since January - £25million worth - are invalid and should be repaid or quashed, a parking lobby group has claimed.
ParkingAppeals.co.uk won a case at the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service this month which found part of Camden's tickets are illegal.
Now they are calling for the council to pay back the money to all those who have paid and cancel outstanding fines, or face further court action.
Director of Parking Appeals, Neil Herron, said: "There is no argument - Camden's penalty charge notices (PCNs) are unlawful and that is quite clear in the court ruling.
"The council can either go down the route of paying people now and not having to pay court costs or we will go to the High Court and force them legally. This is the time for the motorist to bite back and local authorities don't like it when they get bitten."
The issue centres on Camden's decision in January to put a 1.3 per cent "administration fee" on those paying by credit card for parking fines. Department for Transport guidance for local authorities, published last year, states a council "cannot justify applying surcharges" for the use of a credit card to pay a PCN.
In the appeal hearing on June 1, adjudicator Henry Michael Greenslade cancelled a ticket, ruling that the credit card surcharge made all the tickets invalid. His ruling states: "The local authority is neither entitled nor empowered to impose any sum, whether for the method of payment or anything else, in addition to the statutory penalty charge imposed.
"I find the penalty charge in this case did exceed the amount applicable in the circumstances of the case."
Parking Appeals say the ruling means Camden has a duty to repay all those fined since January.
"Camden's tickets are all illegal and have been since January 5," Mr Herron said. "It doesn't matter if the person fined paid by cash or credit card - the tickets are unlawful. The council knows that and if it decides to carry on and still take the money, that is unacceptable."
Despite the ruling, the council still had details of the credit card charge on its website as the Ham&High went to press.
If the council does have to repay the money it will send shockwaves through Town Hall departments already feeling the financial squeeze.
A spokeswoman said: "Camden Council sought legal advice when introducing credit card charges which deemed the charge was legal. We remain satisfied that this is sound advice.
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