A letter to York Council, contesting a parking fine

Some background:

City of York Council used to issue discount parking badges to residents. These badges were free of charge, saved 20-30p per hour on parking, and did not have expiration dates.

They recently changed this scheme, but were unsuccessful in letting everyone know they were changing the scheme. I contested the parking ticket, and it was only when they replied to it that I was informed that the residents’ scheme had ended, to be replaced by a different programme, that required residents to pay for their discount badges.

Here’s my follow-up (images have rotated, for some reason, and I can’t be arsed to fix them):

Your ref: Penalty Charge Notice: XXXXXX

Dear Ms XXX,

Many thanks for your letter, dated 14th April.

On 11th April, I received a PCN attached to my windscreen at Castle Car Park. This surprised me, as I had paid for parking by telephone, and the PCN had been attached before the parking had run out. I had paid at the residents’ discount price, as I have a residents’ discount badge in my windscreen (see below).

IMG_0977

 

Your letter stated that the discount badge was out of date. Of course, looking at the badge itself, you’ll see that there is no expiry date on it, and I was completely unaware that City of York Council had removed this benefit to residents.

Your letter stated that “the Council aimed to conduct an extensive advertising and marketing campaign to ensure all residents were aware of the change before the cut off date of 31st of August” last year. I had never been informed, so although that was your aim, it was not completely achieved.

You stated, “This included articles in the York press”. I don’t read local newspapers, so did not see this.

You stated, “and also signage and posters in the car parks”. Well, I visited Castle Car Park today. There are no posters at the entrance, at all. There is, however a very small, scratched sticker on the ticket machine:

IMG_0976

But this is small, and it is – somewhat bizarrely – located at hip height: IMG_0975

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This means that someone purchasing a ticket would need to be reading an old sticker at hip height, in order to know the detail, and you wouldn’t expect someone to do that unless they were specifically looking out for it. It’s not as if the Council has gone out of its way to make these stickers stand out in any way, is it?

Also, of course, a driver will only see these stickers if he or she is (a) looking down and (b) standing in front of the machine. Drivers (like me) who buy their parking tickets by phone or through the parking app will never get to see these stickers. On the phone payment system you could have a voice message stating that the old residents’ badges are no longer valid, but you have chosen not to.

Your letter also states that the Council “commissioned a letter drop for every household in York which explained the changes in the resident scheme”. I did not receive one of these letters. I also did not receive the annual household refuse collection timetable when it was sent out at the end of last year, but was told that I could order one online (at https://www.york.gov.uk/DoItOnline/Pages/NeighbourhoodServices/RefusePostcodeLookup.aspx). When I enter my postcode, however, my address appears not to be in the system. Try it. I suspect this is why I also did not receive your letter about the parking scheme.

The first I heard that my undated residents’ parking badge was no longer valid was when I received your letter of 14 April 2015. I therefore continue to contest the ticket on the grounds that the contravention did not occur (as the Council failed in its duty to inform me that my discount badge was no longer valid) and that this was due to a procedural impropriety.

In your letter you accept that I was unaware of the changes, and that you will cancel the PCN if I buy a new discount badge. As the discount badges are now chargeable, and at a rate greater than the savings I would enjoy as a badge-holder, I will not be purchasing the new badge – I do not park in council-run car parks often enough to warrant paying the badge fee. It’s a real shame that the Council has decided to remove the resident’s discount benefit and replace it with a revenue-generating scheme instead.

So, I will not be purchasing a badge that will cost me more than the savings it offers, an I will continue to contest this PCN. Should you decide to not cancel the PCN I will appeal the decision. I am sure you will agree that it is fair to cancel this particular penalty charge. After all, it isn’t as if I tried to get away without paying – I paid £2.40 for the hour (including pay-by-phone fees – see receipt copy, attached). That’s 30p less than I would have paid, had I known the badge was no longer accepted. It’s also exactly the same price I would have paid had I been a non-resident, paying at the machine.

It’s also worth noting that your online system for contesting PCNs allows drivers to upload documents in support of their claim. However, it rejects .pdf documents. Can you guess in what format your PayByPhone parking system issues receipts? I’ll give you a clue – it starts with P and ends with F.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Harris

 

2 Responses to “ “A letter to York Council, contesting a parking fine”

  1. Hi Lee

    Having had to deal with a PCN myself recently…

    Could it be that the relevant staff at your local council have not made themselves familar with the gripping read that is: ‘Traffic Management Act 2004: Operational Guidance to local authorities’ and which is available for anyone to download at:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/416617/operational-guidance.pdf

    And in particular clauses 5.2 to 5.6 where the duty of a council to consult with residents on a change in parking policy is clearly laid out,

    I quote:

    “The Secretary of State expects local authorities considering major changes to their parking policies to consult fully with stakeholders. As a minimum, local authorities should consult the following groups…including residents.”

    If they don’t play nicely, you might want to point out that, having NOT consulted with you, your council have failed in their duty under this guidance.

    Have a nice day!

    Andy

  2. Lee says:

    Nice spot! I’ll keep that in the arsenal…

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