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Exclusive: Parking chiefs back down over tickets

PUBLISHED: 09:48 25 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:52 24 August 2010

RED-faced council chiefs have been forced to back down and return thousands of pounds extorted from drivers on Boxing Day, thanks to the Times. Brent Council has bowed to pressure and agreed to refund more than £13,000 of fines generated from ticket-s

RED-faced council chiefs have been forced to back down and return thousands of pounds 'extorted' from drivers on Boxing Day, thanks to the Times.

Brent Council has bowed to pressure and agreed to refund more than £13,000 of fines generated from ticket-slapping traffic wardens after admitting they mucked up.

All tickets dished out on December 26 last year will be refunded as well the cost of all cars impounded after the Times revealed that just four days before Boxing Day the council's own website said parking was free.

This was incorrect and only changed after a reporter contacted the council to tell them.

A staggering 264 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were handed out and six vehicles impounded as 18 wardens scoured the borough for cars to ticket.

Council coffers were ringing to the total of £13,200 from PCNs alone from the one day.

Initially arrogant council officers refused to bend on demands to scrap the fees saying that it was drivers' responsibility to ensure they were parked legally.

They finally bent to pressure from the Times and agreed to reimburse everyone who paid a ticket and cancel those who are yet to.

Don Kelly of Melrose Avenue, Cricklewood, was having friends around on the public holiday and one of them was hit with a £50 fine.

Mr Kelly said: "I was utterly incensed by this and I made a formal complaint at the time. I thought it was a really cheap stunt designed to extort money from residents.

"Thank goodness they have done the right thing although they only did it after the Times got involved.

"No one would have expected to get a ticket on that day least of all those who read it online and thought it would be free."

Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala said: "It's only right that the Lib-Dem run council refunds motorists. It's also shameful that it's taken the council this long to offer refunds, particularly when this shouldn't have happened in the first place."

A council spokeswoman said: "Initially, an error was made on the council's website with regard to Bank Holiday parking restrictions applying on Boxing Day, December 26, 2009.

"This was subsequently corrected. It is difficult to prove which motorists relied on the earlier information. However, some may have done so.

"In the circumstances, Brent Council has decided to cancel tickets issued on the day, involving parking restrictions that are normally not applicable on a Bank Holiday.

"They will also refund payments received."

All tickets will be cancelled automatically but anyone needing help should call 0845 331 2500.

alex.wellman@archant.co.uk


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