How councils make a farce of the parking ticket appeals system

We all hate parking tickets but they leave an incredibly sour taste in the mouth when councils do all they can to get you to pay up when they know they’re in the wrong.

I received notification last night I had won an appeal at the independent parking tribunal against a ticket issued by Westminster council in London.

Not because I’d come up with some slick legal argument but because the council didn’t bother to contest it at the final appeal stage.

Yet it previously rejected two appeals I’d made directly to it with detailed replies setting out why I had to pay up.

So why adopt this tactic of defending yourself when you are judge and jury but not bother at the independent arbitration?

I can only conclude that it was trying its luck, hoping I’d back down so it could collect a £130 fine, but then surrendered because it knew it was fighting a losing battle once no longer calling the shots.

Wasting our time

This makes a farce of the appeals system.

It’s great we have this opportunity to appeal when ticketed by a council as those issued with tickets by private parking firms are in the land of the cowboys. What’s more, the vast majority who appeal to the independent tribunal win their case.

We can appeal once or twice (depending on the ‘offence’) to the council then, if rejected, we can go to an arbitrator.

But councils that reject appeals only to give up later are wasting everyone’s time.

It’s a hassle writing numerous letters, finding photos as evidence, collecting your thoughts and then appealing. We are not paid for our time, we just have to put up with it.

And when councils don’t show up at the final appeal stage the relief at winning is mixed with frustration as to why we had to waste our time in the first place.

In this case, I’d stopped a car-length from a sign that permitted loading, so I collected the items I was loading and five minutes later I returned to a white envelope slapped on my windscreen. 

On the first appeal the council claimed the sign didn’t apply where I was stopped. On the second appeal, it used a different argument: that I was not loading.

The change made me wonder what the traffic warden really issued the ticket for.

Not the first time

The thing is I knew this would happen as I’ve been here before with Westminster council.

A few years ago, I returned home late at night, parked and thought all was fine.

The next day when I got back from work there was a ticket on my car. At that point, in broad daylight, I could see the bay I was in had a ‘suspended bay’ sign close to it. I did not see the notice at night, probably because it was a fair distance from my car.

On inspection of the notice, I found the council mistakenly wrote that it applied to a different road to the one I was parked on. So I knew immediately it couldn’t be enforced as the sign was wrong.

So I appealed twice stating just that. I didn’t state that I couldn’t see the sign as I thought I could beat them on the technicality.

I was rejected twice and then Westminster didn’t bother to contest the final appeal.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Have you had a similar experience with a council? Let us know in the parking ticket appeals forum discussion thread.