One-man war on parking fines
By Caroline Innes
A FINE-BUSTER who has won legal battles across the country today claimed thousands of motorists across Lancashire had been illegally issued with parking tickets.
Neil Herron, who has waged a one-man war against decriminalised parking enforcement, said the tickets were not lawfully worded documents and could be successfully challenged if they hadn't been paid.
Today the county council insisted its legal advisors said the tickets were valid.
But it said that independent parking adjudicators existed to allow people to challenge their tickets if they felt they had a case.
Mr Herron urged any motorist with a ParkWise Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) to contact him so he could consolidate all the appeals into one legal action.
The potential loophole only applies to people who have yet to pay fines, as to pay is to accept the wording of the ticket.
But with around 10,000 tickets a month issued across the county, giving motorists 28 days to pay, the challenge could cost the county council £600,000.
Local MPs and county councillors said they would be shocked if tickets did not comply with laws set out in the Road Traffic Act 1991.
They have called for ParkWise, part of Lancashire County Council, to seek legal advice as a "matter of urgency."
Mr Herron was instrumental in successful challenges to both Bury Metropolitan Council and Sunderland City Council last year.
Both authorities were forced to declare that they would not pursue any payment of outstanding unpaid PCNs which did not display a date of issue.
Last year he proved that dozens of motorists qualified for rebates after Blackburn with Darwen Council incorrectly introduced parking restrictions in taxi ranks.
The parking tickets issued by ParkWise contain the words: "You are therefore required to pay a penalty of £60 within 28 days."
However a ruling by the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service, the London equivalent of the National Parking Adjudication Service, in May said that a fine is payable by the owner of the vehicle.
It decided that to say "you" implies that the ticket must be paid by the driver where in fact the liability resides with the owner of the vehicle.
Mr Herron also said the ParkWise tickets confuse Date of Issue with Date of Contravention and don't comply.
He said: "Yet again we have caught out another authority playing fast and loose with the legal requirements.
"We are now starting to redress the balance in favour of the motorist.
"Many local authorities who have seen Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) as a cash-cow to supplement their budgets are going to pay the price."
Hyndburn MP Greg Pope said: "The county council will have expected and budgeted for the income that these tickets would have provided.
"And now they may not get it and the money will have to come out of the budgets for things like education or social services."
County Councillor David Whipp said: "The way that ParkWise has operated has never been in the best interest of the people who use the town centres and the businesses there.
"Services could suffer if that revenue is not achieved."