December 7 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 27, 2013
A plucky blind pensioner has brought the town hall’s financial wheels grinding to a halt after lodging a complaint about cash trousered from a controversial road layout.
Elizabeth Jones, 85, from Yerbury Road, Holloway, has made an objection to Islington Council’s external auditor about an allegedly unlawful item in the accounts for the last financial year – around £420,000 collected at the troubled width restriction in Drayton Park, Highbury, which has since been ripped up after a series of accidents.
If the auditor agrees with Mrs Jones’ complaint, he could refer the matter to the high court, as well produce a scathing report on the council’s accounts.
Some experts say all the fines were issued incorrectly because the traffic management order (TMO) didn’t match the layout, and while the council claim there was nothing wrong with the tickets, they agreed to return the cash to anyone who applies for a refund.
But since then it has come under fire for returning just £66,000 of the money up until July this year.
Despite being a blue badge holder, Mrs Jones was issued with a ticket earlier this year when her friend parked on the road outside Whittington Hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway, when she went in for an appointment because the bay was designated to a specific driver who lived nearby.
She said: “I want to help stop all the erroneous parking fines on motorists given with very little understanding or excuse.
“I was given a ticket and felt very badly mistreated – they told me to read the conditions of my blue badge, I said ‘don’t you know I am blind?’
“They didn’t take any notice of mitigating circumstances. That’s why I am happy to lodge the complaint – I want to make sure other people don’t get mistreated.
“They have agreed to pay this money back, so they should do it. They know who the people are, they are just hanging on to the money that’s not theirs – they’re being devious.”
Mrs Jones is being represented by the National Motorists Action Group (NMAG) whose director, Peter Ashford, said: “This road restriction was installed by the council without the necessary authorisation so there was no lawful power to enforce alleged contraventions of nonexistent traffic restrictions”.
“None of the penalty charge payments came into the lawful ownership of the council so they cannot be credited to their accounts. The council repeatedly makes nonsensical imaginary excuses why they cannot refund all of the penalty charge payments as many other councils have done.
“No auditor can permit a council to keep money obtained from unauthorised traffic enforcement,” he added.
An Islington Council spokesman said: “As a gesture of goodwill, we will issue a refund to anyone who paid a fine at this width restriction if they get in touch. Full details are given on our website.”