Another fine mess for local councils

Large numbers of parking tickets appeals not contested

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Thousands of motorists are being taken to court unnecessarily to contest wrongly issued parking tickets. Last year more than 54,000 appeals against parking fines were lodged with the London Parking Adjudicator of which almost a third could not be contested by the Council responsible for issuing them.

On receiving notice of an appeal, a local authority can cancel a fine however, Ealing Council let almost 600 appeals go to court only to offer no evidence on the day of the hearing whilst Hounslow Council allowed over 300 cases to be heard without being able to produce any evidence against the motorist.

Appeals Received
% Not Contested
Total London

Source :

Internet pressure group said these figures are ‘shocking proof’ that councils were failing to handle complaints about unfair fines correctly. Website creator Barrie Segal, who claims to be the leading parking ticket expert in the UK, said “In each case that goes to appeal, councils were initially contacted by motorists saying why the ticket was issued incorrectly. Instead of examining the facts, many councils took the easy way out and rejected the complaint, forcing the motorist all the way to appeal. It is easy for a council with unlimited funds and time to do this but in each case it meant a motorist had the enormous stress of a hearing hanging over them for months.”

With aim of combating the issuing of false fines, Westminster Council believes their scheme to issue parking attendants with digital cameras should be replicated in other london authorities.  The central London authority issued their parking attendants with new equipment this summer resulting in an 18% drop in the number of fines.

A Westminster Council spokesman said "Any authority that introduces digital cameras is going to see falling ticket numbers. We introduced cameras in the summer of this year and we are starting to see that appeals are going down, and the overall number of tickets is down." He added that the cameras ensured attendants were issuing valid tickets, and that the council had proof of an offence.

Campaigning website gives motorists the following advice:

  • If you are in any doubt you should appeal. Local Authorities do not like you to appeal as it costs them time and money. If you do wish to appeal then do not pay the charge. If you pay the charge the council will close the case. It is worth remembering that in most areas, the 50% discount on your PCN is preserved within the initial 14-day period. You therefore have nothing to lose by appealing against the issue of the PCN.
  • If the Local Authority does not reply within 56 days of receiving your initial appeal, they must cancel the Penalty Charge Notice and refund any charges you have paid i.e. clamping or tow-away.
  • A Local Authority cannot clamp or remove your vehicle if you return to it before the clamp padlock is closed or you return to it before it is completely off the ground.
  • In six London boroughs, including Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Wandsworth, the Parking Attendant’s word alone on “conduct observed”, is seen as sufficient evidence to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN).
  • Parking Attendants must be wearing their uniform, which includes their hat. If you witness them issuing your ticket and they are not wearing their uniform or hats, then the ticket issued is invalid.
  • If the Parking Attendant has not placed the ticket on your vehicle, or handed it to you, then the ticket has not been properly served and is therefore invalid.

December 14, 2005