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Motorists win - Bexley Council backs down

But they don't pay up

Bexley Council's latest scam is illegal - victims must appeal

Our correspondent writes ...

I went to the post office on Northumberland Heath this morning (25th September 2006) and parked in an authorised bay marked with the customary blue P sign. As I was getting out of my car, a shopkeeper warned me that the bay had been suspended and pointed to a traffic warden who was loitering like a hungry vulture on the other side of the road. (See also the article on Bexley Traffic Wardens)

Parking bay suspension notice pictured from roadI would normally expect that withdrawn bays would have a cover over the notice, just like a parking meter does when it is withdrawn. Not so in this case. A tatty cardboard notice had been tied to the post with bits of string, much like the ones that are attached by fly posters advertising rock band performances, etcetera.

Parking bay suspension notice pictured from pavementThis particular piece of card had fairly small writing which was rather feint and streaky after the overnight rain. Without putting on my glasses, I could not possibly read it but it was difficult to read even with my glasses because it had pivoted on the post and was actually facing away from the road.

Then I noticed several other cars had fixed penalty notices attached to their windscreens and, as I drove off to find another place to park, I noticed more cars parked in other bays up and down Bexley Road had also been booked. The traffic warden was patrolling up and down the whole shopping parade making a real killing for the council but I didn't see him trying to warn any motorists who were just about to park. He certainly made no effort to warn me.

(Click here to see more photographic evidence and an animation)

Parking in the London Borough of Bexley is a nightmare at the best of times. The highways department seem to have stumbled upon a hidden cache of yellow paint or perhaps they got a special deal for buying an enormous quantity. Whatever reason, they use this paint incessantly to create No Parking areas in the most unlikely places.

One favourite is to create Controlled Parking Zones in residential areas by yellow lining roads so that no-one can park between 10:00 am and midday. The pretext is that they are attempting to stop commuters parking in the streets before they walk to the local railway station to catch their train to London. They did the same with my road a couple of years back which was rather strange as no commuters ever parked outside my house. It's actually quite a long walk to the railway station. Needless to say, however, this scheme adds to Bexley's revenue because they introduce some parking bays in each street and sell permits to house owners who could previously park for nothing. At 25 per permit per annum, this adds up to a tidy sum and some of it can probably be used to buy even more yellow paint.

Getting back to Bexley's no parking policy in general and the Northumberland Heath issue in particular, the warden's obvious attempt to issue as many tickets as he could reinforces local opinion that VINCI Park UK (the company formerly known as Sureway Parking Services who operate the warden parking system in the borough) are only interested in revenue. At times, their wardens are positively vindictive and many of Bexley's residents have been booked for being an inch outside bay marking lines that were obviously designed to take a car no bigger than a Mini.

On Northumberland Heath this morning, many motorists were angry because the suspension notices were not obvious. The shop owners were equally angry because their trade was being badly affected by the withdrawal of all parking bays - this apparently necessary, in the council's view, because a side road half a mile away was closed for maintenance.

When will this bureaucratic bungling end?

Update - 26th September

I wrote to Bexley Council yesterday morning and received an immediate acknowledgment advising that my email had been passed on to Parking Services for a response. So far, there has been no response.

This morning, I revisited Northumberland Heath where a different VINCI Park warden was busy issuing more tickets. I asked him why he was doing this and pointed out that the suspension notices were not legal. He told me his company only did what Bexley Council told them to do so I have to assume that Parking Services did not treat my correspondence with any urgency.

I can only hope people who have been caught out by this scam read this article and appeal against their booking.

Update - 29th September

At last, a response from the council. Greg Tippett, Assistant Parking Manager, Bexley Parking Services, wrote just what I suspected he would write. A complete whitewash account, full of lies and denials. (Click here to read Mr Tippett's letter and my reply)

"We never done nuffink wrong, guv. The parking manager and the senior parking officer decided that the bays should be suspended to ease congestion and enable a better traffic flow while the works down the side road were in progress."

What rubbish! Hiding in doorways until the car drivers had left their vehicles, and then leaping out to stick tickets on the windscreens meant the cars were still parked. So that did nothing to ease congestion. But it certainly did a lot to increase Bexley council's coffers. Which is the whole point of this parking scam.

This small stretch of road is congested at the best of times because it has a bottleneck at both ends. The road works in the adjacent street did nothing to worsen the congestion but the wardens could have been deployed to stop people parking before they inadvertently committed an offence. This was never the intention.

The battle rages on.

Be sure to appeal if you were caught out - Click here for instructions.

Update - 2nd October
Parking Bay Battle Ends

The illegal parking bay suspension notices have all gone and Northumberland Heath, Erith, has returned to normal.


Brook Street is still closed and the council hasn't yet responded with a formal explanation but word has it that they "admit their notices were lacking".

Apparently all parking fines given out during the contested period are to be quashed so, if you have already paid yours, get on to Bexley Council and ask for your refund as they have only offered to cancel some of the parking tickets.

And they're still cheating!!

Editorial Note:

This proves that it really does pay to take on the bureaucrats when you know they are in the wrong. It would be nice to think some heads would roll for this act of law breaking but, of course, this is very unlikely. Civil service jobs are as safely protected as their gold-plated pensions.

However, this episode might teach them a lesson. They might take a look at the yellow lines they have painted on the borough's roads. Some of these are also illegal but motorists have been booked for parking on them. Perhaps some more penalty refunds are called for?

Editorial Comment:

We are always concerned when the people who drive motor vehicles are constantly used to provide additional revenue for local or national government. One way or another, motorists are a prime target for the authorities if there is money to be made by taxing them or fining them. Yet people who continually commit driving offences like using a mobile phone while driving, going straight through red traffic lights, or ignoring keep left signs, never seem to get caught. Such offences, which we see every day of the week, seem to be secondary. It's much easier to appoint a bunch of profit-orientated parking enforcement agencies who can issue on-the-spot-fines for which there is hardly any chance of winning an appeal.

In this reported case, we have grave doubts about the legality of temporary cardboard notices fixed to the posts of parking signs and we are checking it out. If we find that such notices are illegal, we shall recommend that anyone who received a ticket refuses to pay and threatens legal action against the borough and their parking agency.


Top Tip

Wherever you live or work, if you've been trapped by a sneaky Civil Enforcement Officer (aka Traffic Warden) and been forced to donate to your local authority's ill-gotten gains check first that the parking restriction was valid. All the information you need can be found at http://www.parkingappeals.co.uk. More information is shown on our links page.

Visitors' Comments

Christopher C, Bexleyheath writes angrily:

The wardens outside Percy Road in Bexleyheath seem to have it in for us at the moment as I have received three parking tickets in the last month. To say I'm angry is a understatement. Vinci needs to go away. Let the police issue tickets again or some one who does not profit.


Tony (Car Driver) Gravesend writes:

what is the matter with you, you seem hell bent on blocking up owe roads just for your satisfaction if you park eligerly than you should be booked if you cant read a sigen than you should not be driving as you are a danger to othere road users and should not be driving you seam to whant it all your own way and not a thought to othere road users are you an old person with nothing else to do its a pittiy you cant put as much work in surporting owe roads to keep them clear to drive on as you do to rubbish the good work some people are doing you are what people call a monne old git but may be thats what you want people to think of you have some comman sens and try and help keep owe roads open for people to drive on safferly and not calles conjestrone im not a yougster but in my late fiftes and i can see you are a fall when it comes to using the roads if your coments mach your driving than may be you should give up driving for yours and owe safte befor you hert some one and you all so nead a lessone in car parking be cause you clearly dont have a clue as for me after 40 years of drving and not a ticket or a fine i fill you are in bad need of a retest


Editorial Comment:

This letter was reprinted word for word. Strangely, the writer also commented about our article on Parking Attendants but he apparently polished up his English - click here to read what he had to say.


Glen Berry, Welling writes:

Parking tickets are a fact of life. Get used to it. Having read both sides of this argument I have but one question; How do I get back the last ten minutes of my life?
You people have far too much time on your hands.


Editorial Comment:

You may think that parking tickets are a fact of life but parking tickets that are issued illegally are fraudulent. But perhaps you are employed by Bexley Council in which case you will be used to breaking the law. While you may think we have too much time on our hands it is perhaps more pertinent to say that you clearly have too much money in your pocket.


Steve Reed, Erith writes:

I recently parked at the big car park at the end of Bexleyheath near the bowling alley..paid the fee for 2 hrs..returned well in time to find I had received a ticket. What could I have possibly done wrong this time I thought? Called the passing warden over and asked him. His reply was, "You didn't display it on the dashboard. I don't normally issue tickets when I see that but some will."
It gets to the stage when I don't want to shop at the Broadway any more for fear of another penalty for whatever the council decide to impose on motorists.


Editorial Comment:

I'd like to think that one day councils will realise they are killing town centres off. But they won't. They are too stupid and too obsessed with raising funds to employ even more idiots to do non-jobs.


Martin Gregory of Worthing writes:

Have just read the above which says "the traffic regulations state that suspension notices must be fixed to the parking sign plate - so these are not legal as they are tied to the post."

If someone could let me know what regulations the above refer to, it would be much appreciated as I currently have a suspended parking bay issue. Thank you


Editorial Comment:

Some information was sent to Mr Gregory.


Jo Bowditch of Bexley writes:

I am so incensed... Ed is right they are killing off the small towns centres with their relentless parking penalty scams and without doubt it is just a fund raiser for Bexley Council. It's all about the money and in no way about the community.

I drove into a tyre bay centre the other week and today in the post came a penalty notice with a picture of my car reversing on THE DRIVE OF THE REPAIR CENTRE!!! showing the front wheel of my car ever so slightly on the kerb of the road side! The rest of the picture shows the previous customer reversing out onto the road. It was obvious I was reversing to allow the other car to get out onto the road and that my swing wasn't quite wide enough therefore my tyre slightly touched the kerb. and wham! 50.00 fine!!

I spoke to the tyre repair centre this morning and he said the parking control will eventually put him out of business, there were 1300 tickets issued against his address last year alone, the whole parade of shops are suffering.

I think I'm right in saying now that the council have now taken over from the police regarding roadside kerb parking so watch out for that one because they will definitely use that as a major fund raiser.

Just another thought but my parking permit went up from 35 to 70 this year - some increase. I used to buy one just for emergencies but I'm not prepared to renew it at a 100% increase . I am sure other residents will take the same attitude so the Council will probably end up with a lot less revenue... intelligent move on their part I think .....NOT!

I think Councils have always had the mindset that they are the Authority and what they say won't be challenged. They don't seem to understand they are funded by the community to serve the community. They really need to step outside of the Council Worker mindset and be realistic about the detrimental affect their relentless fund raising 'hotspot' parking scams will have on the local community shopping areas.

Does anyone know of any association that takes on the Council regarding issues the public are not happy with. I really don't feel I can be silent and take whatever they dish out any longer...

Just another .... I can remember (not that many years ago) when Council Tax Rates was a moderate monthly outgoing but after the mortgage it is now my most expensive outgoing. Where does all this money go?


Editorial Comment:

It goes to employ even more half-witted idiots who will work in the empires built by highly overpaid and incompetent senior managers. And the problem is that when these people are given any sort of power, they abuse it!


Alan Palmer of Brighton writes:

I live in Brighton where the parking restrictions are many but on the whole fair. I occasionally visit Bexley and have got 2 parking tickets in two years - both issued on extremely trumped up tenuous ground. I have fought and successfully appealed the first and am now fighting the second.


Editorial Comment:

Good luck with the second ticket, Alan. You should have a reasonable chance of getting it overturned because vast numbers of PCNs issued in this country are illegal.

Bexley continually flout the parking regulations and thus commit huge fraud through their efforts to increase income. But nobody in the Borough administration really cares because they are mostly as corrupt as one another. They carry on regardless because no one has the guts to give them the boot.


Alan Palmer follows up with:

Although I live in Brighton, I often visit Bexley as my dad lives in the vicinity. I have copied and pasted my appeal objection sent to the Parking Appeals Service after I'd received the rubber stamped 'Notice of Rejection' from Bexley - please bear with me, the outcome justifies the read.
-------------------------------------------
Explanation and defence against Penalty Charge

Bexley Parking services Notice of Rejection dated 11/11/08, refers to white boxes accompanied by blue signs. At the time of parking, I didn't see any blue signs at all in the road and there were certainty none in the vicinity of where I was parked.

The Notice of Rejection also contains the phrase Not all local authorities mark such parking bays on the footway, you should check with each local authority prior to parking

This phrase is ludicrous, and demonstrates clearly that there is an ambiguous policy enacted by this enforcement authority. Are they seriously suggesting that potential parkers ring the council before they park? If one lived in the street then that might be an option, but it is not a reasonable course of action when applied to someone like me who doesn't even live in Greater London. This looks to me like a general get out clause, attempting to justify tickets issued in areas of inadequate signage. Parking restrictions should be transparent to all who might seek to park at a particular location, they should not be ambiguous or vague or retrospectively justified by daft suggestions like this. It is my assertion that Bexley Parking Services are being frivolous and petty.

I live in Brighton where parking restrictions are severe but, in the most part, fairly signposted. I drive a bus for a living and am in favour of issuing parking tickets to those who hinder or inconvenience others by their selfish or careless parking. As a result I am a responsible parker.

On the 27th September 2008. I had a hospital appointment in London. Prior to catching a train from Welling Station I drove around for some 20 minutes looking for a place to park my car all day, because I knew It would be at least late afternoon before I returned. About 1 mile from Welling Station, I found Northdown Road had no yellow lines or apparent restrictions and noticed that all the cars in the road were parked with two wheels on the kerb and two in the road. I saw the marked bays but, in the absence or any signs, was concerned that these might be resident-only spaces, because there seemed to be one for each house.

Brighton has a lot of resident-only bays and are definitely no park areas for non-residents. I saw an area without a white box and concluded that there could be no problem parking there because there were no yellow lines or signs telling me not to. Every car in the street was parked with two wheels on the kerb so I decided to park the same way because to have done otherwise would have caused an obstruction to large or emergency vehicles, especially as the spot where I parked was near a bend in the road.

To my mind, the fact that marked bays are all along Northdown Road and neighbouring roads, establishes the principle that this type of parking is desirable and encouraged in the whole of the road, and the surrounding area, and clearly is not regarded as obstruction. I took care to park my car not even partially blocking a driveway or opposite one. It cannot be right, that simply because my car was not in a marked bay means that it suddenly becomes and obstruction when all others around it were not judged so. This is both illogical and unfair.

I was parked, backed onto a tree which had some earth around it, and was therefore not causing an obstruction to the part where pedestrians walked or wheelchairs would pass. They would all avoid the earth patch around the tree. See digital Photograph - pict0059.jpg - taken when I returned to my car. The same photo clearly shows all the other vehicles in Northdown Road, parked half on and half off the kerb. pict0058.jpg taken in the other direction from pict0059, shows the bend in Northdown Road I mentioned above, a car parked in front of mine about 8ft away, and a few others all half parked on the kerb. Pict0060.jpg was taken on the opposite side of the road facing the same way as pict0058. Pict0061.jpg shows my car and the car in front of it. I took these 4 pictures when I returned to my car, these and a few more I intend to take this week at the site, will be brought to the hearing on a CD for the appeal panel to retain.

Under the circumstances outlined above, I consider that I parked my car responsibly and correctly, and should not be receiving a parking ticket. If I were of a more cynical frame of mind I might conclude that by enacting this unfair policy of selective obstruction and the omission of marked bays in some parts of Northdown Road , Bexley Council and its operatives, have created a lucrative money making trap at the expense of unwary motorists. In any event, there is clearly great ambiguity about parking in Northdown Road and I doubt that I am neither the first person, nor will be the last to be issued with a ticket for parking there.

I have sent an email to Bexley Parking Services (enclosed with this appeal) to try and ascertain how many tickets they have issued in this regard. Whatever the outcome of my appeal, may I ask that the appeal panel insist that signs be erected in Northdown Road warning motorists that they will be fined if they do not park in marked bays, so that nobody else gets issued an unfair ticket like this?

Alan Palmer
-------------------------------------------
Postscript - I took the council to appeal but a few days before the hearing I was informed by the Parking Appeals Service that the council had dropped the case - Oddly enough after all I'd been through I was furious, even though I'd won and didn't have to pay anything, they'd denied me my day in court.

Something needs to be done about Bexley Council's Parking Wheeze, anyone with me?


John Doe of Barnehurst writes:

A couple of points.

Firstly, you complain about the amount of time it took Bexley to respond to your letter of complaint. If you check the Bexley website as I have just done you will see that the service level for responding to a letter is to respond within 5 working days. Going by the dates you provide on your page, it is clear Bexley council were well within this service level, responding in 3 days. I'd say that was pretty good, given the letter had to reach you by post.

Secondly, when moaning about yellow lines in your road, you state that it's a long walk from your house to the train station. I have to disagree. The distance from your house to the nearest station is approximately half a mile. I'd say you were well within what could well be considered a walkable distance (I live further than you do from the station and would consider it within easy walking distance).

Obviously if you feel you've received a parking ticket unfairly then appeal against it, that's your right, but instead of getting riled and spending your time whingeing about it on the Internet why don't you try and relax and enjoy life?


Editorial Comment:

This is a very suspicious comment. I suspect the writer's name name is not genuine and the supplied telephone number and email address are certainly false. Also, the writer is clearly not very intelligent because whatever it says on the Bexley website (which he checked on 24th April 2011) may not have been the same in September 2006. Furthermore, all correspondence was by email - no letters had to be posted.

Moving on, when I reported to Bexley Council that they were breaking the law, I would have expected someone to take this criminal breach seriously and respond almost immediately - not take five working days during which the fraudulent issue of PCNs would continue.

Now comes the strange part of the writer's comment. It's perfectly true that I wrote about the yellow lines that were painted in the road where I live but I did not say what road it was. If the writer is able to say how long it takes to walk from my house to the station then we have to assume he knows where I live. So how did he get that information? Could it have been given to him by the blabbermouths who work for the Metropolitan Police? Or might it be the same police officer who I suspect was the author of another letter published elsewhere on this website.

I never received a parking ticket on Northumberland Heath so there was no reason for me to appeal. But I do get riled up when our corrupt council fraudulently fine motorists who have not broken any regulations. And I do try to expose those corrupt bastards on the council who continually get away with breaking the law. And I hope that one day they will all be imprisoned for malfeasance in public office and not be protected by twats like you, Mr Doe. At that point I may be able to enjoy life more.


Alan Willis of Bexleyheath writes (21st Jan 2012):

Hi, I would like to say I have just tried to park on Crayford Hill. As I went to park in a bay a little Smart camera car jumped into the spot. I turned the car round and found the occupant now tying a camera sign on the lamp post. After trying several times to park without success, I confronted the operative and asked whether she was doing 'speeding' or 'parking' to which she replied 'parking'. Asked if she thought it was acceptable to try to catch drivers parking on yellow lines while, in this case, she was causing a problem by taking up a parking space, she just smiled.

Not sure if there was a time limit on these bays but by putting a sign up she was obviously going to be there for a while. Unbelievable!

Alan Willis


Editorial Comment:

Thank you for this, Alan. Wardens have no need to take up parking bays as Bexley insist they can park anywhere. That appears to include single and double yellow lines (as on Crayford Hill) and pedestrian crossings (seen by me on Northumberland Heath some while back).

But, when you're as desperate to milk motorists as Bexley Council are, anything goes apparently. You shouldn't expect expect too much logical thought or consideration from morons who can't get a better job than patrolling for NSL!

Heaven forbid they should ever be allowed to operate speed cameras!


See also


"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill


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