2 August 2013

CPZ - move your money back

Here is a link to the refund application email address, here

Thank you councillors Richard Cornelius & Dean Cohen (presumably you both had something to do with the decision).

Now how about getting that clamped and removed car returned like you promised Richard?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


  1. The Council already knows who has paid for a permit and/or parking vouchers. They should refund the money automatically without being asked. By compelling residents to fill out a form, they are clearly hoping that some will not do so, allowing them to keep the proceeds of this unlawful policy.

  2. I circulated news of this decision to my fellow Haringey councillors. So far with minimal response. Although this included concern from an independent councillor who - quite reasonably - raised the issue of the impact on future funding for the Freedom Pass.

    To some extent a lack of replies isn't surprising. I guess that some councillors automatically delete my emails. While the track record for fresh and original contributions made by many others suggests they may have been in suspended animation for quite a while.

    But I doubt that our and other councils' finance officers are ignoring this judgement. It could have a major impact on the finances not just of Haringey (£6 million surplus) but councils across the country. Especially the major highway robbers who've used Controlled Parking Zones and PCNs generally as an extra tax - mostly on soft targets. (We have your details and know where you live.)

    So can anyone point to helpful links to some serious analysis and thoughtful comment in the heavier newspapers or other media?

    Are there any hints for example, that the Government may rush though some amending legislation?

    (Tottenham Hale ward councillor, London Borough of Haringey.)

  3. I think the council may have to review its policy on how they handle refunds as I have lodged an objection on this very point in that the Accounts contain unlawfully derived income and so the Council cannot keep any of it in its books. The external Auditor has not yet replied to my objection and so now he will be able to take account of the council's decision to accept the judgment.

    In Haringey the council must fund their costs from council tax, government grants & legitimate income for services provided as they always have had to.

    It is the case that (incidental) surplus parking income has to be spent on transport related items like the Freedom Pass but it isn't the case that the whole cost of the Freedom Pass scheme has to be raised from the Special Parking Account surplus.

    Imagine a rather lop-sided borough where there is only one CPZ of 100 houses and where no-one ever parks improperly and parking is free in all the High Streets (paradise obviously). It is full of elderly people and the Freedom Pass costs £10m a year. Could you charge £100,000 for a CPZ permit to collect the required £10m? No of course not and that is why the judge decided as she did.

    The figures are less extreme in Barnet but if the council had won the day they could have increased the car permit charge for residents to £250, £500, a £1,000 per car, any figure they fancied. This is power that the council cannot be trusted with.

    1. Mr Mustard, I think, we're at cross-purposes.

      I'm not challenging the Court's decision. On the contrary, I've argued for several years that Haringey (or Barnet or any other council) should not be seeking or expecting a massive profit from its Parking Account.

      It should obey the law and aim at balancing its books. Probably erring a little on the cautious side and making a small profit since - as I understand the position - it is also unlawful to keep the Parking Account running at a loss and subsidising this from the General Fund.

      However, I've come up against the problem that many of my fellow councillors confuse spending a surplus on permitted and very worthy transported-related services, with *setting out* to generate millions of pounds surplus - with the deliberate aim of having funds available to spend on these services. Which might include, for example, school crossing patrols, road safety lessons for children, repairing potholes; the Freedom Pass etc etc.

      These are not stupid or nasty people. Well, okay, some of them are. But mostly, they are well-motivated, decent, public-spirited councillors who genuinely and sincerely 'don't get it'. They listen to council senior officers who have assured them that generating surpluses is perfectly fine.

      In the past Haringey senior officers even found a barrister willing to write a legal opinion which assured councillors that it's perfectly fine to keep fines generated by unlawful yellow box junctions. http://bit.ly/18ZrfOV

      Also in the past, Haringey had a Chief Executive who sent me a series of emails about my local CPZ - presumably written by less senior staff - which were factually incorrect and contradictory.

      Earlier today - 5 August - I asked Haringey to give me and other councillors a briefing on the steps taken to consider and act on the implications of the Barnet Judicial Review on parking charges. I was told that "a response will be provided to all members (i.e. councillors) shortly".

      (Tottenham Hale ward councillor)

  4. No Alan, we agree completely.

    A copy of the advice your fellow councillors agreed might make for an interetsing blog post.

  5. I'll send you a copy.

    But to clarify, I took the email to mean we'd shortly get an officer briefing *for* Haringey councillors; not a decision made *by* councillors.

    In any case, at this stage I wasn't expecting anything too crisp and clear. I imagine that councils across the land are busy consulting one another and their lawyers about how to get round this decision.

    Ideally, with the Government passing some short quick "clarifying" legislation enabling the taxation of peasant carts as usual. http://bit.ly/1b8lsHE

  6. Just in case you haven't heard the exciting news. An email this morning from the quango London Councils informed councillors that:

    "Fewer parking tickets are being issued to motorists by London boroughs, according to London Councils’ figures published yesterday. The total number of penalty charge notices (PCNs) issued in London for illegal parking has fallen by more than 90,000, from 4,131,738 to 4,041,423. London Councils’ Corporate Director of Services, Nick Lester said: “Fewer parking penalties are being issued because civil enforcement is deterring people from parking illegally. Local authorities are also looking more carefully at representations from motorists at appeals.”

    So there you are Mr Mustard. All is well in council Munchkinland. The sun shines and we keep traffic flowing along the yellow brick road.

    I assume some unintentional glitch led to the Press Release sent to me leaving out any mention of unlawful parking charges. Or the fact that some councils have large numbers of appeals against them allowed by PATAS. Plus the unhealthy reliance of
    many councils on parking income to balance their books.

  7. I happened to see that quote yesterday.

    So a drop of 0.002% is hardly statistically significant and could be due to any number of factors, I would rather see the 10 year trend. So Mr Lester is either a genuis statistician of the first water or someone who hangs their coat on a convenient peg.

    He also conflates the issues of tickets with representations that only come after the PCN has been issued and so make no difference to the issue quantity.

  8. Back in May 2008 Nick Lester "explained" why Councils should not refund unlawful PCNs. He argued that this wasn't "really a good use of public money to repay the penalty".

    Amazingly, it hadn't dawned on Mr Lester that money paid in fines belongs to the motorist who pays. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7424955.stm

    On this topic at least, London Councils appears to act as yet another PR agency justifying anything and everything councils do.

    Worse still, we are funding it. Perhaps it's time the quango was shut down and the money spent on something useful.

  9. Do you know if it's possible to claim refunds on half-day permits bought in that time? This seems a strange request, but here's my thinking:

    1) All day visitors vouchers used to be £1 / day.
    2) New charges took that up to £4 / day.
    3) In order to save money, I bought some of the new half day ones at £2 / half day
    4) Therefore, if the unlawful hike in charges hadn't been introduced, I would have bought £1 all day visitors' vouchers instead, still a saving I feel I'm now entitled to.

    All advice welcome!

  10. I'm seperately emailing you the "briefing" from Haringey about the Barnet CPZ decision. (I can't post it here as it exceeds the 4,096 character limit on blog comments.)

    As you'll see, Haringey says that: "a detailed review of permit income and costs was undertaken in 2011 and at that point a surplus was not discerned".

    This is a bit like visiting Venice and failing to "discern" that the streets are full of water.

    Haringey's recent surpluses on its parking account have been:
    - 2009/10 £3m;
    - 2010/11 £3.3m
    - 2011/12 £5.5m
    - 2012/13 £6m.


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