|Council Say Parking Fines Not Unlawful|
Following an investigation about suspended bays
Ealing Council believe they're in the clear despite a BBC report suggesting some parking fines may have been unlawfully issued.
The investigation, by the BBC programme 'Inside Out', focussed on suspended parking bays. A typical inner London council suspends more than 1,500 parking bays a month, reasons include removals or building works.
Signs are put up five days before the suspension is due to take place. Any vehicle parked in the suspended bays once the suspension has started, will be issued with a penalty charge notice
Penalties can be as high as £110.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has never produced a universal template for a suspended parking bay sign and councils must ask the transport secretary to authorise their own.
In 2010 a parking ticket was ruled as unlawful because the Council (Camden) didn't have Department of Transport authorisation.
The DfT says 16 councils - including Ealing - still have no authorisation and it's estimated that they will issued somewhere in the region of about 22,000 tickets, netting around £1.5 million.
Motoring lawyer, Neil Davies, from Caddick Davies, said: "From a legal perspective councils are on very shaky ground, because the signage they used is effectively made up. It's difficult to explain the actions of councils who haven't sought authorisation - they may be relying on the fact many people don't challenge parking notices."
Ealing's Liberal Democrat Leader, Councillor Gary Malcolm, has written to the council demanding that: ''Ealing Council removes any illegal parking notices and compensate all the drivers who are likely to have been fined illegally. Liberal Democrats say that Ealing Council has a record of relying on cash from fines. This must end.''
Ealing Council have told us that their legal advice - and that of London Councils - refutes the BBC investigation and they don't believe they have acted outside the law.
A spokesperson said: "Our signs do not seek to mislead and the legal advice we have received says that both our signs, and any PCNs issued in connection with them, are lawful."
12th February 2013