Ombudsman tells Islington Council to apologise to woman whose car was clamped for two months after PCN error

Rachel Burley-Stower with her car.

Rachel Burley-Stower with her car. - Credit: Archant

Islington Council has been told to apologise to a woman after clamping her car for two months despite knowing her parking fine was sent to the wrong address.

Lawyer Rachel Burley-Stower, of Holloway, has had her complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman upheld following a battle with the town hall.

She said the council hounded her for a penalty charge notice without following correct procedures and left her having to drag around a suitcase filled with paperwork on trains to and from Brighton where she works.

She was also left having to walk home late at night.

Her Mini was clamped in April last year. Rachel called the agency and the council and told them she had received no notice, at which stage, the ombudsman found, the council should have issued a fresh fine and removed the clamp.

Instead her car was taken away.

After getting nowhere with the town hall, Rachel had a statutory declaration accepted by the Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC). The council should have suspended bailiff action then, but her car wasn't returned until June.

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"They should have just checked their records and noticed they sent it to the wrong address," said Rachel. "I work in Brighton and often have to carry around heavy files, which I put in my car. Instead I had to put them into a suitcase and drag it back and forward on a train.

"I also go to a photography class in Jackson's Lane, Highgate and had to walk home at 11pm at night."

Rachel has offered to help anyone else in a similar situation with their appeals.

The council has already cancelled the PCN and must now apologise and pay Rachel £400 for the distress caused by the "uncertainty, outrage and inconvenience" of the case.

It must also report back to the watchdog on how it will improve communications with enforcement agents.

A council spokesperson said: "We accept the ombudsman's findings, and apologise unreservedly to Ms Burley-Stower for the distress and inconvenience.

"We will be in touch shortly to arrange financial compensation. We will also closely examine our procedures to understand how a mistake like this could have happened and to ensure it doesn't happen again."