When powerful lobby groups step on the rights of the taxpaying motorists or ‘This stinks’.

Lynne Featherstone

Lynne Featherstone has a cracked team working on a reply

It’s exactly one month since we wrote to Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone after she said in the media  “For too long motorists have fallen victim to extortion and abuse from rogue clamping companies. By criminalising clamping and towing on private land, this Government is committing rogue clampers to history and putting an end to intimidation and excessive charges once and for all.”  (view source) Featherstone was cooing over the passing of the  Protection of Freedoms Act which is to put an end to the pratice of wheel clamping on private land, with the exception of railway station and council run car parks.

After we wrote to her she told us that her team were working on an answer to our concerns, yet since then we’ve had nothing back from her crack ‘team’. Of course we will be following up with Ms Featherstone, who has an Oxford diploma in communications.  But today the Daily Mail claims victory for banishing clamping on private land. For us the last paragraph is the important part of this article, it reads;

Marc Gander of Consumer Action Group said: ‘This is a ploy to give the appearance of official status to Parking Charge Notices and create the impression in victims that they are obliged by law to comply with the requirements of the private parking industry.’ (view source)

A member of the campaign group The No To Mob also sent London Councils his concerns over the legality of the BPA’s (British Parking Association) plans and questioned why through London Councils taxpayers money has been used to set up a special so called appeals process named Parking on Private Land Appeals (POLPA website). It makes good reading and provides some of the finer details of this money game  in his letter (view letter).

POLPA will be nothing like the current PATAS appeals process which until now has been dealing with PCNs issued by London local authorities. POLPA appeals which will cover the whole of England, are only to be allowed by post, and these will not even be judged by adjudicators. Instead POLPA will use just glorified pen pushers which they are calling ‘assessors’.

 

Meanwhile behind the scenes the DVLA will be selling your V5 information to the former clamping firms who will now try to invoice the registered keeper of the vehicle. This is thanks to our MPs who when drafting the new Protection of Freedoms Act, basically cocked it  up, allowing the very dubious members of the BPA just to demand payment from the registered vehicle keeper. Meaning BPA members will no longer have the expensive task of tracking down the person who was actually committing the alleged parking offence.

 

A little discrepancy

The whole Protection of Freedoms Act became an embarrassing joke after the BPA were exposed for submitting wildly inaccurate figures to Parliament. You can read on the Plain Language Commission website how the BPA gave false evidence to Parliament to get the Protection of Freedoms Act passed. The BPA deny they gave any such false evidence, as they it seems would much rather we all refer to their amusing figures as ‘a little discrepancy’.

 

Today I’m wearing my London Councils hat, honest

Nick Lester

Nick Lester

The BPA also had a handy insider, the multi tasking Nick Lester, London Councils Director of Transport, Environment and Planning working at London Councils. Lester is also the Chief Executive at Transport Committee for London, and wait for it, President at the European Parking Association, as well as Council Member at the British Parking Association. So who would be better placed for the BPA to helpfully drive through the setting up of the new PATAS appeals service using taxpayers money? Lester is a paid by the taxpayer whilst also working for the parking industry, nice work if you can it. London Councils taxpayer funded officers and all those local London councillors who have cabinet positions at London Councils are all working away to help the BPA’s members.This is even though no London local authority actually needs the new appeals service to enforce parking in their own council car parks, as they have their own laws already in place to do just that. Councils have for years been able to use section 35 of the Road Traffic Act 1984 to enforce on council owned property.

 

No conflict of interest here, move along please.

Lester was of course keen to inform us that he always removed himself from any London Council meetings when this dastardly plan was been err ‘discussed’. The meetings at London Councils were supposed to be open and transparent but each time Nutsville asked to video a meeting we were always banned from doing so. Surely they weren’t trying to do all this on the hush, hush were they?

 

Remember though, these ‘parking tickets’, ‘demands for money’ call them anything but parking fines, are not council issued PCNs, they are simply invoices being issued. So the private car park enforcement firms must prove a loss comparable to the amount of cash they are demanding. Something we’re sure will end up in the courts very soon if enough people ignore the new postal POLPA appeal service along with the BPA members optimistic requests for what no doubt will be inflated amounts of your cash. Need proof, then refer back to today’s’ Daily Mail article where one BPA member tells us exactly what will happen; “Trevor Whitehouse of National Clamps, whose clients include Oxford University, said: ‘We charge £80 to unclamp a vehicle, which is a lot less than some operators. But from next week we’ll be putting our penalty tickets up to £100 because there is more work involved.”

 

POLPA are not operating as a statuary body on these parking invoice assessments, so if you use PATAS’s new private land parking appeal service you will only encourage the parking industry to believe it has gained from the motoring public some form of acceptance that they are a respectable industry backed by a real appeals service. Although once you know that POLPA via London Councils will be charging the BPA £27 for each appeal the public post to POLPA you may tempted to add to the BPA’s overheads. The BPA must have their fingers crossed that the public don’t cotton on and rebel by sending off appeals to POLPA to cost the BPA’s parking enforcement companies a little extra money for pestering the motoring public as they have be doing for years.

 

Never forget this is all about the money. London Councils intend to invoice the BPA for each months appeals going through POLPA. If the BPAs membership is not as robust as they say it is they may find members pulling out if their monthly appeal fees sky-rocket.  This could mean there are some interesting times ahead. Say if for example; The BPA defaults on paying the POLPA appeals service fees. Will London Councils be calling in a BPA approved bailiff company to recover debits from the BPA?

 

Don’t make us laugh.

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1 Comment

Mark SaundersOctober 1st, 2012 at 9:41 am

It looks to me as though the “freedom” being granted here is for parking firms to sack the shaved apes who currently extort money with menaces on the spot, and instead hire a load of shyster solicitards and collect the same money (or more) via bailiffs.

On a straight reading, the Act redefines “damages” for “unauthorised parking” to mean “whatever is on the sign”, which appears to leave us actually a lot worse off than we were before.

No more limiting the demand to (at most) lost parking revenue, no test of reasonableness. They can just put whatever fantasy number they want on the signs, slap penalty charge notices on every car – note that I didn’t say every car that’s parked beyond time or without paying – and then badger registered keepers and see who wants to pay up.

It’ll take a few people calling their bluff and taking a trip to the Magistrates to sort it out – if any of the BPA thugs fancy their chances. Until then, it’s an Extorters’ Charter, and I’m sure that the BPA will be quite content with the law that they’ve bought.

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