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Devious parking attendants boost Bexley council coffers

Our correspondent writes ...

Imagine this scenario:

A 79-year-old lady, the Senior Warden of her church, arrives at her church one Tuesday morning at 10:30 to help the mothers and toddlers group who use one of the church halls. She does this every Tuesday morning.

All the roads in the area have a parking restriction which operates between 10:00am and noon because they are close to the local railway station. The yellow lines were Bexley Council's answer to the problem caused by commuters who parked their cars all day while they went to their jobs in London. But that stopped house-owners parking outside their own homes unless they hired one of the bays subsequently installed by the council. The charge for this privilege? £25 per annum - a nice little earner for the council. Yet nowhere near the bounty produced by hiring Vinci Park (formerly Sureway Parking) to patrol the borough and swoop on anyone who disobeyed the diktat's new anti-parking regulations.

Naturally, the council insist their parking wardens do not swoop on people - they are merely employed to keep the traffic flowing. What rubbish! I have watched them in action (see the article on illegal parking bay withdrawal) - they hide in doorways until owners have left their vehicles, then they pounce.

And so it was with our old lady. Every other Tuesday morning it wouldn't be a problem because the church has its own off-road car park. This particular Tuesday, one of the mothers had completely blocked access to the car park by leaving her 4x4 in the entrance instead of putting it in a bay. However, this is a problem that can be quickly resolved by locating the vehicle's owner and asking her to move her car.

With no other roads in the area free of this council-imposed parking restriction, our old lady leaves her car for a second and nips across the car park to call for help to get the car moved. At the same time, two traffic wardens appear and ticket her car. The PCN confirms that the time between observation and penalty was just one minute so there was no grace period allowed to check if the driver was loading or collecting a passenger, even though the driver was always in view not 30-feet away from the wardens.

But that's irrelevant to employees of profit motivated companies like VinciPark. The wardens have done their dirty deed by the time the old lady rushes back to her car. If, as the council say, their purpose is to keep traffic flowing, they could have said something the minute our lady got out of her car. But no, they hid in their car until the victim left the vehicle and then they pounced. It's their standard modus operandi in Bexley Borough.

But our lady explains the circumstances and states that she had no other choice. In a non-authoritarian climate, a reasonable enforcement officer would understand the circumstances and rip up the ticket. But here we have two problems: once the ticket has been written, it cannot be torn up (according to the wardens); secondly, traffic wardens can never be compared with reasonable people. They are trained to issue as many tickets as they possibly can, using whatever devious techniques they can employ, just so that the council (and VinciPark, in this case) can makes lots of extra dosh.

But, there is a small ray of light. It appears the traffic warden may possess just a glimmer of humanity. She says she will make a note of the circumstances in her pocket book so that the PCN can be rescinded when our lady makes her appeal. [Remember this - it becomes important later in the story]

An informal appeal is lodged within the hour. It is rejected four days later.

This can only mean one of two things: either the warden lied when she said the ticket would be rescinded on appeal and didn't make an exception report in her notebook, or her report was ignored by the person who adjudicated.

The notice of rejection was followed up by a very angry email to the Parking Manager, Mrs Tina Brooks, requesting that the adjudicator's name and job title be revealed as the signature on the rejection notice was undecipherable. Without proof of authority, the notice could have been issued by a junior clerk in the traffic office with no experience of adjudication procedures. The request was ignored.

All email correspondence was also copied to Mrs Brooks' superior, Graham Ward - who operates under the grandiose title of Head of Technical and Customer Services. He let Brooks deal with most of the queries but he did answer some questions about staffing levels and competence levels. These alone were quite interesting:

  1. 25 Parking Attendants (traffic wardens) are employed by VinciPark to cover Bexley Borough.
  2. Bexley Council employ 1 Parking Manager, 3 Parking Officers and 13 Parking Assistants - all of which appear to be supervisory positions.
  3. All parking staff are fully trained in the statutory process, etc. Some have completed relevant City & Guilds as well as internal and external training courses.

Two further emails were sent to Brooks and Ward asking for the traffic warden and the adjudicator to be identified, and to state if the warden actually submitted a circumstantial report and, if so, why it was ignored by the adjudicator. Both emails were ignored.

Eventually a Notice to Owner was issued and the remaining options were to pay the fine or make a formal representation. The seven valid reasons for lodging an appeal did not include situations where ...

  1. a traffic warden lied and/or gave false or misleading information
  2. the parking management team refused to provide information that could be used to defend an appeal

So the form of representation had to be used to request that the appeal be sent straight to the independent adjudicator appointed by the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service.

Latest news ...

You are allowed 28 days to make the formal representation and this one was submitted with 25 days to spare. The next communication from the council was a Charge Certificate issued on the grounds that no formal representation had been received by the council. How strange that a form that had been returned well within the prescribed time limits in a pre-printed envelope supplied by the council did not reach them. Makes you wonder how many similar envelopes Royal Mail fail to deliver, doesn't it? Or could it be that Bexley Council's work is so much simpler if they can dispense with the due processes of law?

So a pretty hot email was fired off to let the council know their action was considered as a very cheap trick. Attached was a scanned copy of the representation they claimed not to have received but apparently this was not acceptable as the submission did not fall within the seven allowable parameters. The council conveniently overlooked the fact that you are allowed to appeal on other grounds by law and they are obliged to take your evidence into consideration.

Again the council outlined the options available at this stage: pay the inflated fine, wait for them to obtain an Order for Recovery, or write a letter containing the representations. The latter option was chosen and the letter was written immediately and sent by recorded delivery. A scanned copy was also sent by email.

The very next day, our lady received the Notice of Rejection of Formal Representation together with a supposed photocopy of two pages from the parking attendant's notebook and black and white photocopies of the photographs the attendant took at the 'crime' scene. The notes contained no reference to the conversations that actually took place - just a comment supposedly made by our lady. Incredibly this contained a double-negative, quote: "I can't deal with no more." Our lady never ever speaks like that!

One of the photographs was extremely useful because it clearly showed that the yellow line was not continuous as it should be by law. The other photograph showed that the parking attendant was not wearing her uniform hat - another breach of the regulations. An email from the Parking Manager also revealed that the original adjudication had been done by a Parking Assistant - the lowest level in the parking hierarchy. But the person's identity was not revealed. Why not? Are the council running some sort of covert operation?


(Click thumbnails for more images)

Although the yellow lines in question were repainted some time after the alleged infringement, further investigation shows that many of the yellow lines in the borough do not meet the prescribed regulations. In some cases, they have not been repainted two years after roads have been dug up and resurfaced; in others, lines are not terminated with a T-bar, T-bars are missing where double and single lines meet, and in many cases it is impossible to tell whether the lines are supposed to be singles or doubles. Given that huge revenue is generated from parking fines, it is clear that little of this money is ploughed back into ensuring that the road markings are clear and legal.

But the greater implication is that many, many motorists have been fined for parking in areas where the illegality of the road markings may invalidate the Special Parking Area Order granted to the borough by the government. If this is so, many victims have been fraudulently fined and the council should repay all monies they extracted.

Bexley Council have been challenged in writing on all these counts and further developments are awaited ...

Update

Bexley Council refused to communicate on these issues so the appeal has been taken to the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service for independent adjudication. We now await a hearing date and will report back later.

However, the matter was put before two local councillors before the appeal was submitted. The one who answered - Councillor Simon Windle - tried to opt out (a) because the confidentiality flag was set inadvertently on my email message and (b) because councillors are not allowed by law to intervene in parking infringements. When I pointed out that the whole point of raising the issue was not to seek help to overturn the ticket but to ask him to investigate the deeper issues of illegally punishing motorists purely to increase revenue, he passed the matter to Bexley's cabinet member for transport - Councillor Peter Craske.

Craske already knew about this website and made it clear he didn't like our attempts to expose devious council practises though he preferred to refer to it "as making insulting comments about council employees." How strange that council employees find it insulting if someone tries to make them accountable or expose the truth. They want to snoop and interfere in almost every aspect of our lives but they don't like to hear the truth about themselves. Amazing!!

Craske also went on to make other wild accusations and incorrect assumptions and totally failed to concede or explain the council's shortcomings or those of the parking attendants whose word is always to be believed over the motorist. He refused to supply any of the major information I had requested and, though Cllr Windle passed my request under the Freedom of Information Act to Bexley's Communications Officer, Mr John Ferry, there has been no acknowledgement or response from him.

I did reply to Craske's email but it was too late - he'd already taken his bat and ball home! It's beginning to prove my point that Bexley's Tory councillors are no better than their labour predecessors.

Further update on FOI  Request

Freedom of Information requests have to be answered with 20 working days. Whichever way you look at it, even in the extravagantly over-staffed public sector, that still equates to four weeks. But, as the words "work" and "public sector" do not fit comfortably together, working days probably take no account of days when no work is actually done. And, from one of our sources, it appears that many Bexley employees spend most of the working day playing Solitaire on their computers or just larking around. So this may explain why the response to my FOI request actually took 76 working days! Even more amazing was the fact that the letter from Bexley's Freedom of Information Officer, John Grosvenor, was a Public Interest Refusal Notice under Section 22 of the Act - the grounds being that the council was not compelled to provide any information prior to the appeal submission as it would be outside the statutory process.

As far as I can tell in Bexley's case, the Statutory Process - a term they use often - is a law, rule or regulation they twist to suit their own purposes. But the letter went on to explain that 'requests for information not related to the PCN should be directed to ... yes, you've guessed it ... Councillor Peter Craske - the man who ignores my correspondence. It further says that my "request will not be fulfilled" so that sounds like I would be wasting my time and that the 20 working days, already having extended to 76 working days, will now be extended to infinity.

So much for Bexley's official slogan: Listening to you, working for you, delivering value.

Editorial Comment:

Traffic wardens, parking attendants, civil enforcement officers (or whatever they want to call themselves) are actually used by some local authorities to keep the traffic flowing smoothly. They watch for possible breaches and try to prevent infringements by warning the motorists and giving them a chance to avoid a penalty notice.

Bexley Borough is not one of these caring authorities! Their enforcers use covert methods like hiding in shop doorways to ensure that the scam is perpetuated, even when their actions are illegal - (you must read the article on illegal parking bay withdrawal.)

As for Mr Ward's claim that parking staff are trained to City and Guilds standards, I have to ask, in what subject? In practice, some of the wardens I've spoken to would be lucky to pass the 11-plus when they are over 21. But then why would any intelligent person want to join the ranks of the most despised body in the land?

The staffing hierarchy is also a bit worrying. In the last job I had before retirement, one manager and three supervisors were responsible for 40-plus in-house staff and 50 or 60 contractors. That's one supervisor for every 25 subordinates and they coped admirably. But Bexley Council have 17 supervisors for 25 'foot soldiers'! That's one and a bit each. No wonder council taxes are so high.

Meanwhile, if Bexley residents or visitors come across a parking attendant with the designation of BL343, don't believe a word she says. The BL obviously stands for 'Bl**dy Liar'!

If a warden tells you he or she will make a note in his of her notebook, insist on seeing what he or she has written, make a note of the page numbers and get the notebook reference number. This will at least ensure that the records cannot be tampered with before the authority submits its evidence to the adjudicator who works for the independent appeals authority.


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.

The BBC are on the case

Anyone who has watched BBC Breakfast TV during the last two days (29/30th May 2008) will have seen reports from all around the UK showing that many councils are fining motorists illegally for "infringements" spotted in parking zones that are, in fact, illegal themselves. This, of course, proves once again that parking restrictions have nothing whatsoever to do with improved traffic flow or safety - they are designed solely to provide millions of pounds of additional revenue; another form of "highway robbery"!

And this illicit enrichment plan is likely to get worse under the new CCTV regulations if councils adopt the same dirty tricks as the London Borough of Lambeth. They are manipulating CCTV recordings to make the circumstances seem worse than they actually are - in other words, they are deliberately fabricating evidence!

One motorist - Jonathan Greatorex - has appealed successfully against a PCN and has been awarded costs, though Lambeth Council have so-far failed to pay up in the specified time. Jonathan's photographic evidence showed how Lambeth's parking attendants earned their money. They sat in camera cars reading the newspaper!!!

And you wondered why council taxes were so high??

Visitors' Comments

Editorial Comment:

The first comment, from Tony of Gravesend, was received at 10:45pm on 7th May, 2005. He searched on Google for 'parking bexley' and obviously didn't like our report. However, we have published his comment verbatim as everyone is entitled to an opinion ...


Tony (Car Driver), Gravesend writes:

"Having read the above letter it is quite obvious this man doesn't know what hes talking about. As a car driver of 40 years I have never had a ticket or a bad experience with traffic wardens anywhere including bexley. I don't park illegally and don't sympathise with people that do whether for one minute or ten. this man obvioulsly doesn't realise what yellow lines are for they are for ambulances and fire engines etc and are to keep the roads flowing.

The T bars and whether the warden wears a hat or not is irrelevant it is clear from your statement the old lady knew she had parked on a yellow line broken or otherwise.

As you stated the woman in the 4x4 caused this problem perhaps she should pay the ticket that's why we need wardens otherwise the roads would be blocked solid.

You should be ashamed of yourself and so should the old lady for not paying the fine and you should support local enforcement of the law because one day you may need help and the emergency service might not get through."


Editorial Comment:

And we thought nobody liked traffic wardens, except other traffic wardens! Unfortunately Tony has missed the point. We fully agree that the law should be enforced so long as the people who enforce it are not breaking the law themselves. If yellow lines do not adhere to the very stringent specifications laid down in the regulations they are illegal. And they have nothing to do with ambulances and fire engines in this case; they were supposedly laid down to stop commuters parking but are really nothing more than a fund raising scheme for the local authority and their contractor, VinciPark.

25 minutes later Tony lapsed into totally illiterate mode and sent us another comment about our article on illegal parking bay suspension. Again we have published it verbatim...


Tony writes again:

"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:

Contrary to what Tony may think, I passed the Institute of Advance Motorists test in 1978 and also the League of Safe Drivers test. I was a member of the Association of Industrial Road Safety Officers for many years and organised many safe driving events for HGV drivers. I also mastered English at school.

So, Tony, I speak from a qualified position. But as you are so defensive about traffic wardens perhaps you are one yourself?


HB, Sheffield writes:

Great article and great web site. I find it all most informative. Thank you very much.


Editorial Comment:

Thanks for balancing the vote, HB. I was beginning to worry that there were perhaps more visitors like Tony who actually like traffic wardens.


Irvin, London writes:

I am so pleased to see I am not alone in fighting for justice for the elderly or vulnerable who are already struggling on the brink of survival. The things they are having to go through are soul destroying when they see no fairness or justice from the very people who should be protecting them.

My Prime Minister either doesn't seem to know or care about millions of people being troubled by the wasted time and financial disasters they face from parking enforcement. At least 65% are illegally ticketed ... does this not prove that the councils are crooked in their practice? And letting them get away with this will deeply ingrains in our society that there is rot throughout the councils and the legal system.

By the way, I sit in as a public member on the back seats at the appeals and I think many more people should sit in to lend support. Many people thanked me afterward for my support and some said if I wasn't there they would not have had a fair hearing. In time, as they became aware of my presence, it was amazing how the adjudicators changed their persona. From being biased they started to do what they were supposed to do. It just goes to show that we, as the public, do need a body which will safeguard our interests.

Anyway, many thanks for your web site.


Derek, Dartford writes:

My recent experience with Bexley Council's parking policy confirmed to me their uncaring and inflexible attitude to minor parking infringements.

I purchase a pay and display ticket to park in Nag's Head car park in Welling. After returning from shopping I was surprised to find a PCN on the windscreen but after investigation found that the ticket had turned over in the car, possibly due to a draught and the design of the ticket being unable to be stuck down.

I appreciate that the warden was obliged to issue the PCN under these circumstances but expected Bexley Council to cancel the fine after it was proven to them that a valid ticket was indeed purchased. Forget any compassion or common sense from Bexley Council. The appeal was rejected twice by their office and once by the parking appeals service. A valid ticket was purchased yet I was still fined. I don't accept how this can be right or fair.

This demonstrates the rigid attitude of Bexley Council and what those of us who drive frequently in the borough have to contend with.


Editorial Comment:

The name of the game where Bexley Council are concerned is money. And any scam to raise it will do, even when the council are operating an illegal controlled parking zone and are therefore committing fraud on a huge scale.


Leslie O'Leary, Colliers Wood writes:

I stayed with my sister for Christmas. My car was parked on Lower Park Road, Belvedere for the entire Christmas period and was not parked on a yellow line. On New Year's Day I moved my car literally a few yards to opposite my sister's house, which has yellow line, to enable me to load my car up. It was parked there for all of 15 minutes. When I went back to my car I had a parking ticket. The yellow line has been there for a couple of years for two reasons: 1) to stop commuters for the railway station parking and 2) to enable binmen to access the flats opposite my sister's house.

The roads on New Year's Day are almost devoid of traffic and where I was parked would never cause a hazard to other road users at any time.

I appealed and, of course, it was rejected.

I actually didn't realise (just like a lot of other road users) that bank holidays are not unrestricted. Even so, the fact that a parking attendant was out issuing tickets on New Year's Day in a quiet residential area left me speechless.


Editorial Comment:

Bexley Borough earned almost £4.5-million from parking revenue during 2007 and none of it was spent on maintaining the signage or the road markings. Even when the appeal for the lady in our lead story was won on the grounds that the CPZ was illegal due to having only one sign at the entrance to the zone, Bexley still had the gall to insist that they did nothing wrong!

The fact is that they were committing a huge fraud by operating the CPZ but, as we all know, no-one in the public sector ever loses their jobs, even when they are criminals. As a result, the main culprits on the council remain employed. But the battle is not over yet!


BJ, Borehamwood writes:

I managed to get a PCN written off using the 1688/1689 Bill of rights. The council in question was Islington.

How they have the audacity to call traffic wardens CIVIL ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS when they do not use the civil laws of this country to enforce a PCN. The traffic ACT 2004 needs the consent of the governed, as does any act.

Parliament push these acts through to collect fraudulent monies from the driving population then they frighten and intimidate people into paying. I have been threatened by Luton Council with the bailiffs if I don't pay up for a PCN by the 24th February 2009. And they doubled the fine.

I am still fighting the PCN as a matter of principal. My ticket was not displayed correctly (it was face down), I paid for my parking and will not pay a hefty penalty. They also told me they would take me court (more threats and bullying tactics).

Demanding money with menaces is a serious offence - something they need to be reminded of.


Niall McKernan, Canterbury writes:

I visited Bexleyheath on 16th January 2009. I received today a penalty charge notice stating I stopped in a restricted area outside a school where prohibited (camera enforcement). There were two accompanying photographs of my car time stamped 15:00:29 and 15:00:38 showing my car adjacent to the kerb, presumably outside St Catherine's school.

At the time I had just delivered my wife to visit a friend at an address towards the bottom of Watling Street hill and I then went back up the hill to go to Sainsbury's car park in the town centre. I had no reason to stop outside the school and have no recollection of doing so. It is possible that I had to stop briefly if there was stationary traffic in front of me or if there was a parked vehicle obstructing the road ahead. If so, I may have had to wait for the traffic to clear so I could move out to pass the vehicle. Obviously this is not something that I would specifically remember but I do know I did not park.

The report note refers to "By CEO: BL340". What is this? Is it a fixed camera or has a parking official taken photos of my car? If it is a recording would this be continuous so I could look at it and see how long I was there and what the position was regarding the traffic on the road in the vicinity? If it was by an official then as I must have been in the car surely it would have been appropriate to have come over to me and pointed out that there was a problem. This would of course assume that I was there long enough for this to be possible.

This is the first time I have been to Bexleyheath and I am most concerned that an unwitting law abiding 69 year old pensioner should have this sprung upon him. I am at a loss to know what to do. It would seem you are guilty unless you can prove otherwise. I would appreciate some advice.


Editorial Comment:

The fist thing to do is to make an informal appeal on the grounds that the contravention did not occur. You will find the necessary instructions on  http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=992. If this is turned down, follow the procedures on the website and make a formal appeal.

Bexley, like many other boroughs, know parking revenue is easy money because most people will pay up even though they are convinced they did not park illegally. But if you fight them you have a good chance of winning if it goes to a tribunal providing you can prove you were wrongly ticketed. If you can afford £10 I also urge you to subscribe to the service offered by http://www.parkingappeals.co.uk. You will get lots of information that will help you to fight your case.

If the photographs were taken nine seconds apart, I suggest it is not compelling evidence that you were illegally parked. In other words, it proves nothing. But this is the disadvantage of introducing penalties based on the evidence of mobile cameras, especially when they are operated by the kind of idiots that VinciPark employ. There has been much evidence in the past that such evidence can be tampered with - see the story above about Jonathan Greatorex under "The BBC are on the Case" - and it is my belief that Bexley's parking management team have no qualms about tampering with evidence.

To answer your questions:

  1. CEO is the new name for traffic wardens - Civil Enforcement Officers. They're still the same morons that we had before but they now have a fancy title
  2. BL is the designation given to Bexley's wardens. We think it stands for "Bloody Liar"!
  3. It's difficult to know if this was a fixed or mobile camera without seeing the photographs. Bexley do have three mobile teams.

Editorial follow-up:


watling streetI went out and photographed the place Mr McKernan stopped his car and discovered that the "No stopping" sign was actually illegal as it contained the wording "During Term Time" (click picture on right). This is not allowed. Also, the marking on the road had largely been obliterated by road repairs so the wording was incomplete and could not be read. Furthermore, the road markings and the sign were on the opposite side of the road to the school. We're fairly sure this is not allowed in the regulations. I supplied my photographs to Mr McKernan, together with a copy of the regulations, and his ticket was cancelled on appeal.

This proves yet again that the wardens do not know the law regarding parking regulations and that Bexley's parking administration is willingly breaking the law. Several weeks after the ticket was rescinded, the sign had still not been replaced so presumably other motorists may also have been booked by some stupid CEO. But it all goes to show that if you are booked, you must check the regulations and fight your case if you find the authorities are infringing the regulations by not applying the correct signs or road markings. There is no tolerance on the legal standards so councils cannot argue that poor markings are OK.


David Orr, Abbey Wood writes:

On 4th May 2009 (Bank holiday Monday) I parked in Blackfen Road to have a look at a car for sale. As it was a Bank Holiday I thought it would be ok to park on a single yellow line.

Within a very short time a traffic warden appears (mobile) and tickets my car. She already had the ticket printed out before she got out her van (which was parked halfway in a parking bay with the rear of the van in the middle off the road).

She was so fast that neither me or the car dealer saw her arrive and print the ticket and we were only 10ft away from the car. The dealer apologised and said that was how they worked in Bexley.

I explained to the warden that I thought it was Sunday parking as it was a Bank Holiday. She said in a 'I do not care' attitude, "No parking Mon - Sat." and I replied, "If I genuinely thought I could not park I would have displayed my Blue Badge" at which point she took a photo of my car window and told me to appeal it. Then she ran back to her van.

I got into my car and drove down the road to the next car dealer. I put my Blue Badge up this time and noticed she had stopped (on a yellow line again) and was waiting for another traffic warden who was booking another car on the other side of the road.

There were very few cars on the road so this ticket was about money. Nothing else!


Editorial Comment:

Unfortunately, bank holidays are not treated in the same way as Sundays because that would reduce the income from this 'nice little earner'.

However, you've hit the nail bang on the head with your last sentence, David. Traffic enforcement in Bexley is nothing more than a money-making scam enforced by a bunch of VinciPark cretins who don't even understand the parking regulations they supposedly enforce. And they are supervised by a team of Bexley staff who knowingly break the law and commit wholesale fraud into the bargain.

I have reported this in person to Councillor John Wilkinson (Brampton Ward) and have copied most of my accusatory correspondence to the deputy leader of the council, Councillor Simon Windle (Barnehurst Ward). Neither of these useless Tories appear to have done anything about this scandal thus proving my point that they are no better than their Labour predecessors. However, I am putting together a case for malfeasance in public office and I hope to see some heads roll as a result.


JFR, London writes:

I had the same problem with parking in Bexley.

I had to go to appeal to win my case - waste of time appealing to Bexley as they don't know the law on the parking regulations. Or perhaps it pays not to know.


Editorial Comment:

It certainly must have paid handsomely in the past when so many people in this area were fraudulently victimised by Bexley and their useless contract wardens. But, suddenly, many of the yellow lines (which the council previously insisted were legal) have been repainted. No doubt the lines will be disturbed again in the near future because the road surfaces are a disgrace with potholes everywhere.


Mark, London writes:

I have been ticketed today (22nd July 2009) in Islington. I parked my car in a controlled zone and saw the parking attendant. I explained to him that I was going to the shop, which was about 25 metres away to get some change and asked if it would be ok. He mumbled something at me, shrugged his shoulders and turned around as if to walk back up the street. 2 minutes later I get back to my car to find him just finishing off my ticket and placing it in his envelope and about to stick it onto my car. I asked what he was doing and said I had just spoken to him and he just said, "Appeal, appeal."

Beware of London Boroughs Camden and Islington


Chas H., Cheltenham writes:

I thoroughly agree that something should be done about the Highway Robbery perpetrated by these rogues, with full and final backing by the councils.  It would appear that lying and falsifying evidence are not only condoned, but backed up by many of these councils.  I am currently in dispute with Lambeth Council but feel like I am trying to push a piece of rope up a hill. 

I am at the stage of appealing to the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service but I am constantly plagued by the "Just pay up and get it over with" thought.  However I will not be called a liar by anyone, regardless of their ethnicity.  So the fight goes on. 

Keep up the good work.


Celine Olszowka, Bexleyheath writes:

Just wanted to add my own experience.

I live in the Bexleyheath Station zone  - no parking Mon to Fri 10am to 12pm; two hours five days per week of controlled parking. This is effective in stopping commuters parking and taking the train to work but I am fed up with traffic wardens who do not seem to be aware of the zones and their boundaries.

I parked outside my own house at 4pm. I came home to see a traffic warden giving me a ticket. I asked her why she was issuing me with a ticket and she stated that I was parked on a yellow line. Obviously she was completely unaware of the zones and how they work. I was fully entitled to be parked their at that time of day.

She told me to appeal as she had already started to write the ticket and could not cancel it. Having already experienced this letter writing saga I did not want to go down this path. I told her that as far as I was concerned she was committing fraud and I would phone the police. At which point I started to dial 999. She radioed into her office and they confirmed that she should not be issuing a ticket.

She then CANCELLED IT. YES I SAY THAT AGAIN, SHE CANCELLED IT. And I heard nothing since.

So it is not true that once they have started to write it they cannot cancel it.

PS: Just today I saw a traffic warden issuing a ticket at 5.55pm in a zone that ended at 5.30pm. There is no hope if the traffic wardens are unaware of the time zones operate. Do they not carry a little map around with the relevant info. It's not exactly rocket science is it ?


Editorial Comment:

Well done, Celine. Unfortunately, we have to accept that for some of the dum-dums who work for, or contract to, Bexley Council, getting to grips with the legal aspects of parking enforcement IS rocket science (to them). But even if they are unsure of the times zones operate, these are shown on the adjacent signs which must be there by law. So could it be that the ones you encountered could not read English?

The annoying thing is that unless the victim motorist is prepared to appeal and take the battle to the tribunal, if necessary, wardens will continue to break the law and councils will continue to get away with it. They are helped in this respect by people like the div who wrote to us and said,  'parking tickets are a way of life. Get used to it.'


Michael Probets of Bexleheath writes:

My future daughter in law parked, as she does every weekday, in the same bay at 6.45am near Bexleyheath station. All the other bays were full of cars and when she returned home that evening her car was the only car left in the bays. All the bays had been suspended and she had a note on her car from one of Bexley contractors saying that as from the next day work was going to take place and she was not to park in that bay. She was also issued with a parking ticket. Suspension notices had been put up during that day.

She made an appeal to Bexley Council and her appeal was turned down. I totally agree with yourself. This is a disgrace and Bexley council should be held responsible for what is going on. SHAME ON YOU BEXLEY COUNCIL, YOU ARE A DISGRACE!


Editorial Comment:

It seems some people can park on yellows without fear of being caught.

I was recently drawing cash from the NatWest ATM on Northumberland Heath (yes, the same Northumberland Heath where traffic wardens have been known to swoop like vultures) when a black guy parked on the double line next to the parking bays in Limewood Road. Around the corner, on the main Bexley Road, a black woman also parked on the double yellow with her wheels partly in the bus stop area.

As they were in the process of parking, an NSL warden appeared on his scooter. He clearly saw what was happening but took no action.

And now I have a question for you: What colour was the warden? No prizes for guessing correctly.


And talking of NSL wardens, has anyone ever seen a warden on a scooter that doesn't have L plates? I don't think I have.

I find it hard to believe that people who are responsible for booking traffic offenders haven't even proved that they are qualified to understand driving laws themselves. But then, it is quite obvious that senior managers in Bexley's parking department also do not understand the law and they presumably get well rewarded for their ignorance. Even though they are continually committing fraud.


Debbie of Belvedere writes:

I am another sick-to-death citizen of Bexley Borough. Sick to death of watching their camera enforcement cars sitting on double yellow lines everywhere, thumbing their nose at the rest of us (can this really be legal?); eating, laughing and generally enjoying being paid for a jolly, whilst they lie in wait for unsuspecting Joe Public.

I have just got a ticket from one of these, having been told by a shop owner it was fine to pull onto their shop front area to load some carpet. The warden took photos of me whilst driving (is this allowed?) also one of my stationary car. I have contested this, as none of the shop owners whose cars were there at that time were ticketed.

I don't know where I stand, but I do know it's high time we started some sort of campaign to DESELECT the councillors who are perpetuating this shabby treatment of their voting public. Any advice (legal or ideas to vote them out) would be gratefully accepted.

Thanks for reading


Editorial Comment:

I am confident an appeal to PATAS would have been successful. If more people appealed, it would soon be more obvious that Bexley runs a fraudulent anti- arking operation.


Martin Haswell, Enfield writes:

For a simple parking ticket I contested, the council involved acquired the services of a debt collection company called JBW Group. They then appointed a bailiff and a friend of his to visit my property. I was in my front garden when they entered my front gate. They did not announce they were bailiffs and, as there were two of them, I turned to step inside my door.

With my back turned to them I was struck from behind and hit my wooden stairs hard. Thinking I was being burgled I turned and grabbed a guy much bigger then me and rammed him against a wall INSIDE my house. When he then explained he was a bailiff I let him go.

They took: Litespeed Ocoee Custom built Mountain Bike (cost today £6,000); Samsung LCD LE40A656 TV (cost £1,300); Panasonic Blu-Ray Player BD-30 (cost £350 few months old!); Omega Seamaster Watch (worth £500+ but I told them I paid £120); Toshiba Upscaler DVD (cost £60).

Their invoice reads: Ocoee Rally Bike (RRP£2,000) sold £400 (!?!?!?!); Large TV sold £200; Omega Seamaster Watch sold £120 (odd as that's what I said I paid!); Toshiba DVD Upscaler sold £10 (fantastic as it was cheap rubbish); DVD Player sold £5 (five pounds! award winning player 6 months old and had JUST come available when I bought it!!).

All items were purchased new and all receipts. The bike was famous and only one of its kind!! It appears in a copy of What Mountain Bike Magazine with my name printed above it as the owner and the shed it was leaning against was in my front garden.

They left me a phone number to pay that did not exist.

The bailiff, a Mr Reeves, also wrote down his number but one of the numbers was unreadable!! So I made him write them down again on the bottom of the paperwork (clear to be seen!!). I tried to contact them several times to no avail. When I did get sent a phone number two days before the deadline I rang the number to make payments. They refused to take payment as I needed to contact the bailiff, which I had tried. The told me they were NOT responsible for the sale of the goods (though copy of the invoices I have contradicts this).

I suffered from severe stress and took two overdoses and the second time ended up in hospital. I phoned the Police on the day and they were crap, as was my GP.

I also contracted Swine Flu within 5 days of the bailiffs visit.

When the Police did come round they told me it was my word against theirs so as there was two of them I was up a creek. So I set about planning just how I was going to prove they were crooks but did not know how.

Then, by chance, the very store that built the bike for me had a phone call from someone that spotted it in an auction. Due to the very expensive nature of the bike he was shocked that his friends had built it as they had never built one before and rang them about it. Hearing why it was there they were so shocked they offered to buy it back, but when the store realised he only had £1000 on him they laughed and said he would need double that but to keep an eye on it.

He did and I know it sold for £2,750!!! But the invoice I have here states that it sold for £400!!! Also as I understand it it was also a completely different auction to the one they claim to have sold it at.

I tried to get a solicitor involved over the assault but to no avail. I did get a Police reference number and Crime Number for the incident. I sent a stream of letters to the debt company and they finally sent me a bailiffs report and a copy of the invoice for the auction. The report is full of mistakes and lies that are easily disproven. They got the date wrong they attended my property. They also made the serious error of NOT admitting to assaulting me but not being able to resist stating that I assaulted them, something I was banking on.

According to them I ran away inside my house when they announced they were bailiffs. Yeah right, but left my door wide open for them to enter peacefully but when they did it was THEN that I attacked them grabbing him by the throat with my right hand. Unbelievably brain dead. Plus it was actually my left hand as my right hand, along with my right knee ankles, feet and back, all suffer from physical problems and experience pain, been on medical record for years!

They claimed they called the Police, but they did nothing of the kind. He admits I did show him the bike in the magazine (one of a kind bike only one like it in the country, possibly the world) but he could not be sure it was the same bike! Yeah right. The letter from JBW Group actually states every item in detail, manufacturer etc, but fail to notice that their list does not coincide with the invoice, nor the fact the bailiff got the date wrong.

But I had pretty much figured that JBW Group were crooked too as they ignored dozens of attempts at contact, by both email and letter and stated they had no record of being contacted by me. Very bad for an organisation granted with those kind of powers!! Community Legal Advice misquoted the law to me! Stating it was perfectly OK to be knocked on your arse from behind by a bailiff and told me, in the early days, I had no case!!

You write to solicitors and 10%, by email, you contact come back email address not valid!! About 2% actually give you the courtesy of a reply. The rest of the lazy, good for nothing people do not even bother to answer you!! I have worked as a PA to a solicitor and quite honestly I do NOT like them. They seem to think that there degrees are different to those of others and always seem aloof and looking down their noses at people.

One I worked for wanted to be paid £100 per hour just to fill in forms!! Anything to do with appearing in court they did NOT want to know! I have been asking JBW Group for the names of the industry's ombudsman that governs debt collectors and bailiffs but have received no answer as yet, surprise surprise!!

Sorry about the length, I have left out a lot of detail and facts involved but I wanted you to know the size of the problem I have and the amount of money I have been robbed for! Fine was £550. I calculate they sold my belongings for around £4000. They claim to have received £735 for everything and I am due no refunds! LOL.

Does anyone anywhere have any information or any advice? This would be very much appreciated!! I have been working hard and beavering away because I do not want these people to get away with it. I fact I WILL NOT let them get away with it, but I want to do it legally through the courts. But it seems you need money to enforce the laws in this country!!

Well I know the facts and I will NEVER let this go now, now that I know what these people are.

Oh I did write to BBC watchdog and they sent me a letter. I need to send them the details of latest developments.

 Latest Developments: I have had my £10 Postal Order returned to me for a Subject Access Request!! They refused to give it to me. I did, and do, have someone helping me. But after 6 weeks I am still unsure of their ideas on what can be achieved on this, or what we can take action on other than Excessive Seizure.

I spent a long long time getting the evidence I have in my possession. I spent a lot of time locating witnesses. The sole purpose of doing this was to expose their underhand nature and ability to lie, defraud, conspire and be very inconsistent. From this I could pursue something against the affect they have had on my life and my health. I am on another forum with this and have had a great many emails from people, many of which thanking me for what I have managed to achieve so far. As most of you are no doubt already aware, their is precious little out there by way of solicitors who know anything about this, or dare do anything about this.

Basically I am hoping to locate a solicitor out there somewhere who DOES know about this and who can look at the digital photos I have of the bailiffs report and invoice, which really IS quite laughable. I also hope that other victims out there can learn things from what I have done. I know 99% of how it all works. There is one little bit of information that contradicts with what is accepted by the top people who know about this: The scam is between three groups. Debt Co, Bailiffs and Auction House. It would appear their paperwork all backs each other up.

The confusion lies in the responsibility of the sale of the goods. What I am told by people advising me does not quite match up with what I have witnessed. BUT the paperwork backs up what they say! There lies the confusion and at some point I will work out why this discrepancy exists.

Thus far the breakdown is: Assault/Theft/Excessive Seizure: Bailiffs (who also refused to take a £3,000 collectors car!!) Theft/Deception : Debt Company (report, self incrimination by backing up ridiculous invoice) Fraud : Auction House Breach of Civil Right Agreement, Not registered with High Commissioners Office for Administration and Enforcement of Parking, Data Protection Issues. : Local Council The person who is meant to be helping me was told of my story on another forum. They then set out trying to gain contact with me. I was then told by them, among others, that my case, if true, is VERY VERY BIG.

After 7 weeks I still do not know what was meant by any of these statements. Nor have I been given any idea of what actions will be taken other than Excessive Seizure. Though in the beginning everything I listed above was repeatedly stated to me on the phone!! There has been serious health implications to what they did. I also reported it and have a Police Crime Number and Police Reference Number.

So, if anyone out there gets help from this or wants to ask me anything feel free. If anyone knows of a good solicitor out there that is knowledgeable and capable on these areas I would be very grateful to hear from you. Thanks for reading.


Editorial Comment:

I have long believed that bailiffs and the auction houses they use are criminally tainted but, as you say, unless you can afford to buy yourself an attempt to obtain justice there is little you can do. They will keep ripping people off and the law will protect them.

If you Google 'JBW Group' you can see a great deal of information that suggests they are a 'nasty bit of work' with a pretty dire reputation. And they have fallen foul of the law themselves after losing a battle with Westminster Council. Their sympathisers could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Unless you can find yourself a crusading solicitor there is little hope of the JBW Group changing their ways. Naturally, we may get more feedback from other dissatisfied victims of their practises and this could lead to more action. Meanwhile, you could try talking to the Citizen's Advice Bureau.


Martyin followed up with:

Ah well I MAY have found a crusading lawyer. But I can not contact him for another couple of months due to his backlog. He told me he was a sucker for a 'Cause Celebre'. This is quite interesting and if you're not sure of its meaning look it up on Wikipedia!

I had a book arrive, I had forgotten I had ordered, on bailiffs laws. An eye opener for me. I understand a lot more now. I have had a breakdown of sorts ... all a result of events that took place as result of what I went through. It has kind of knocked me sideways and I need to focus my attention on this and to find a solution. I do not know how long this will take and in the meantime I have decided to shift my focus away from this. This may be a matter of days or a month or two, I just do not know.

I am very tempted, when I can come back to this, to study the laws as much as I can and make my own applications to the courts and represent myself, should my 'Cause Celebre' fail to materialize. If you do not see me posting then feel free to prod me in a few months. I have this story posted on about 6 sites/forums. The bigger the net the better the catch!! In the meantime best of luck to everyone.


Helen of Welling writes:

My house is at the end of a quiet dead end road. On Thursday night, my friend paid me a short visit around 10 o'clock. 20 minutes later when he left, I opened the door and there was a parking ticket on the car he parked right outside my door.

I was already upset by the council painting double yellow lines right in front of my house. Now I just couldn't figure out how Traffic Wardens wandering around a dead end road giving out parking tickets at 10 o'clock at night is going to help with local traffic flow.

When I went to look at the other car parked at the end of the road, that had a ticket too. Guess we were not the only lucky ones.

These night shifts they are doing must really be making a good profit for the Council.


Editorial Comment:

The problem is that if you park on double-yellows and get caught, you really cannot complain. However, I guess this shows that Bexley Council are determined to make up for lost government revenue by getting more from the electorate! And, as usual, the motorist is an easy target.

But what puzzles me is why wardens are working at night. It's already bad enough that many of the current breed of Traffic Wardens on motor scooters do not wear instantly recognisable uniforms but night patrols? Where does it end?


Bryn Dornan of Bath writes:

Received anonymous letter (looked so fake) from Gloucestershire council stating 'our warden handed YOU the driver the ticket in relation to an apparent parking fine issued BY HAND' to me. I've not set foot in, nor drove through, Gloucestershire in as many as 15 years to my recollection. I DID however report to Milton Keynes Police that a "traveller" (for want of a better description) had stolen the number plate from the front of my unmarked white transit van.

Two letters came with all contact details eradicated then a third WITH said details but clearly stating not to bother trying to contact as it was too late to appeal. Then letter from a court so far from me I had no clue as to its whereabouts nor able to even so much as consider attending, as I'm disabled.

Wrote lengthy email to the courts explaining the fraud and utter illegality of their so called unsubstantiated accusations and claims. Reply was simple ... we don't deal with this you must go direct to the council in question when they had already been told of their fraud and illegal actions.

Today I'm in possession of threatening bailiffs letter stating they intend without further notice to come into my home and take what little I have left in this world since fraudulent police in Bath covered up a crime that cost me everything barring my life. Same story .... proof beyond comprehension...no rights to act or sue. If You or I, as a general member of the public, tried to pull any of these illegal fraudulent acts we'd face a 20 year sentence. But police and councils can almost literally cover up a murder to make their achievements seem within budget.

What can one do when every solicitor won't take the case as the conflict of interest created deliberately by councils by sharing the PIE and giving a little work to each and every one of them.

I stand on my life and soul that all the above is true and honest with an abundance of evidence against all concerned. And there is so much more ....


Editorial Comment:

Thanks for this information, Bryn.

We live in a very corrupt world often dominated by policemen, solicitors, and council officers. Most of the time they get away with it because they quote non-existent laws and because no-one stands up to them. But this is what we have to do.

Send us some of the evidence you mention and let's see if we can build a case.


Mrs D Connaughton of Preesall, Lancashire writes:

A recent parking offence when took place when I transported my elderly and frail 82-year-old mother to local shops in Lancashire with regards to a prescription that she needed to resolve.

After parking as close as possible to the location (because she is unable to walk far) she said that she would place her Disability Parking Card inside my car window display area. Unfortunately she did not do this - which is no doubt an example of her accelerating, short-term memory failure – and so the card was not displayed for the 5-10 minutes that the car was parked on a single yellow line.

We returned to the vehicle seeing a Lancashire Council traffic warden placing a Parking Notice on the windscreen even though we showed him the Disability Parking Card. Despite appealing to Lancashire Council and separately writing to a local Conservative Councillor, the charge was upheld and my mother insisted on paying the fine despite having limited finances and being on benefits.

Whilst I expected that response from the Council, my mother didn't (she comes from an age when compassion was the norm rather than current greed of so-called hard-up councils). Despite being close to 83, she has belatedly learned a salutary lesson about the state of our country!


Editorial Comment:

A sad story; one that illustrates the total absence of compassion from the thickos who are given uniforms and granted powers they should never have. But the companies or councils who employ them earn huge sums of money from parking fines and don't even flinch at breaking the law themselves to fill their coffers.

In this instance, you were in the wrong for not checking that the blue badge was displayed but a compassionate adjudicator could have rescinded the penalty knowing that you did, in fact, have a blue badge which had been seen by the warden. Unfortunately, compassion never outweighs the force of greed and greed is one of the main reasons this country is in the state it now is. 



"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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