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Islington council backs down in row over parking ticket wording

PUBLISHED: 07:46 20 September 2013

The Black Beret protesting outside  Islington Town Hall

The Black Beret protesting outside Islington Town Hall

Dieter Perry

Parking campaigners are celebrating after the town hall quietly amended the wording on tickets because, they claim, it made £40million of charges invalid.

Some experts say a crucial piece of wording is missing from 850,000 penalty charge notices (PCNs) issued by Islington since 2008, meaning that some fines could have been issued in error.

In April, parking adjudicator PATAS partially overturned one ticket because of the missing clause, saying it amounted to “procedural impropriety”.

The council insists there was nothing wrong with the wording, but in July amended the text to make it clearer.

A parking vigilante known only as the “Black Beret” even took to the streets outside Islington Town Hall, in Upper Street, back in May to try to put pressure on the council to refund the money collected from the tickets.

He said: “It’s funny how they said the wording was absolutely fine all along, then suddenly amended it without telling anyone. If it’s OK, why change it?

Confusion

“The old wording created confusion, and if it’s not clear, they need to rule on the side of the appellant.

“It is an admission they were wrong – a tacit admission of guilt.

“They still need to refund everyone who got a ticket with the old wording. It needs someone with time and money to take this to the High Court. Most people can’t do this and the council is taking advantage of the situation.

“I feel happy that they have changed it after all my hard work – it’s quite an accomplishment, I think.”

The council has already agreed to refund nearly 11,000 tickets – potentially worth £1.4million – issued at a road layout in Drayton Park, Highbury, which has since been ripped up.

The town hall pointed out that a second PATAS adjudicator had overturned the original decision, despite ruling that the wording “does not strictly comply with regulation” and is “too opaque”.

Neither of the PATAS rulings are legally binding, so campaigners want the matter settled once and for all by a ruling in the High Court.

A council spokesman said: “We recently updated the wording on our penalty charge notices, to make it as clear as possible.”


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