Headlines: December 20th, 2007

Some local councils are accused today of rejecting too many challenges to the parking fines they impose. An article in the January 2008 issue of ‘Which?’ magazine says, though, that the number of fines overturned at the appeal stage, which is often uncontested by the authority, means it is worth drivers persevering if their initial challenge is turned down.

Research for the article, “Challenge parking fines”, found that there were more than 9,400 appeals against fines in England and Wales – not including London – in 2005. More than 5,000 drivers won their appeals against the penalties with councils not contesting 2,749 of the cases. The article also cites the case of the magazine’s own Head of News, Liz Edwards, who challenged what she believed was an unfair ticket issued by Lambeth Council, which twice rejected her challenge before she won a later uncontested appeal.

Lambeth Council has admitted to ‘Which?’ that this year it wrongly sent out 8,000 demands for parking fine payments with the threat of action by bailiffs as a result of an IT error, which has now been corrected.

The campaign group Appeal Now, set up to help motorists challenge parking fines, says in half the appeals won by drivers the councils involved failed to offer evidence. It claims that this level of uncontested appeals suggests that the tickets should already have been cancelled. Today’s article says that in 2005, more than 60 per cent of appeals in the London boroughs of Hackney, Hillingdon and Southwark were uncontested but in Stockport, where the council tries to resolve challenges in-house, 23,000 tickets were issued without a single formal appeal taking place.

The Editor of ‘Which?’, Neil Fowler, says, “Some councils seem all too ready to give parking fines, but far more reluctant when it comes to cancelling the ones that aren’t justified, perhaps with one eye on their income. Many motorists will simply give in and pay up, but if you think a parking ticket is unjustified it’s well worth challenging it and, if the challenge is rejected, appealing the decision.