London council admit to error
The BBC have obtained an internal report that shows between 2011 and 2013 six thousand eight hundred and forty parking tickets were issued from unauthorised cameras, the fines amount to £350,000. London Newham Council are the culprits in this case, by law only camera models that have been specifically authorised by the Vehicle Certification Agency can be used by councils the tickets Newham issued were from unauthorised cameras. A copy of the final report reads "compliance is high (97%); however, due to the volume of parking penalty charge notices issued even a small percentage of non-compliance will have a significant impact on the council's finances. Clear instructions should be issued to the parking contractor only to use certified cameras for the identification of parking offences." With regard to two of the unauthorised cameras, the report detailed "the parking contractor was instructed not to use these cameras to identify offences. However, 151 PCNs were issued." The council has now cancelled all the parking tickets that were unpaid, writing off a total of £347,376. But it is refusing to refund those drivers who settled the unlawful fines straight away. Paul Pearson, of ticket appeal website Penalty Charge Notice, said "if the cameras are uncertified they can't be used for enforcement that is the law. The law is there to make sure cameras councils use are fit for purpose they are relied on for evidence, and otherwise councils could use any old camera. They should contact the motorists who've paid their fines, apologise and offer a refund. They expect us to abide by the rules, but when they're caught they seem to be above the law. It is disgraceful conduct.” Mr Pearson does have a point, as motorists we have to pay these fines, often they can increase if not paid promptly, if the council has made a mistake surely refunds should be issued. The BBC has also learned some tickets were unlawfully issued before the two year period covered by the report, but the authority is unable to say how many. In light of the BBC's investigation, Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said "when councils are carrying out parking enforcement using cameras they must make sure they are only using equipment which has been properly certified. This certification process is vital in ensuring that the system is fair and that motorists can have confidence in the standard of evidence being used to issue penalties." A Newham Council spokesman said "an internal review in June 2013 of 169 cameras operated by Newham Council found that 12 cameras used to issue parking tickets were not fully certified at that time. The council has decided that all outstanding fines from tickets issued via these cameras will be cancelled." He added "the cameras recorded vehicle use which was liable for enforcement. As other councils have established in law when involved in similar cases on a much larger scale, we will therefore not be allowing appeals on tickets paid in relation to these cameras."
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