Council admits towing blunder
Susanna Wilkey CAMDEN Council has admitted that it blundered when fining a Primrose Hill resident and then towing away his car for allegedly parking in a suspended bay. Chris Blackburn s Range Rover was towed last Wednesday after he parked near his home i
CAMDEN Council has admitted that it blundered when fining a Primrose Hill resident and then towing away his car for allegedly parking in a suspended bay.
Chris Blackburn's Range Rover was towed last Wednesday after he parked near his home in a bay the council claimed had been suspended for tree works.
He had no choice but to pay �260 in fines and recovery charges even though he was convinced that the sign had not been there when he parked his vehicle.
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According to council guidelines a sign warning motorists of an upcoming suspension must be displayed for 14 days prior to a bay suspension.
After he was towed, Mr Blackburn called the council to establish when the sign was erected and was told it had been put up at 3.08am on July 29.
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He said: "I knew right away that there wasn't a sign there on that date but the man I spoke to argued that it had been properly put in place 15 days before the suspension.
"He also claimed the notice had remained there at all times and if it had been removed at any time due to vandalism, this would have been recorded on their system. He specifically stated that the sign had not been vandalised.''
But when the council later admitted making a mistake following inquiries by the Ham&High, it said vandalism was the cause of the mix-up.
After his conversation with the council employee Mr Blackburn went back to the sign and removed a temporary sticker which indicated that on the relevant dates it was being used at another site.
''It couldn't have been in two places at once, could it? They are prepared to be dishonest about when they claim to have erected these signs if it means being able to fine innocent motorists parking outside their homes,'' he said. ''I am outraged that they think they can get away with it just to make money. I want a full inquiry."
He is also angry that although the 'suspended' bay was outside house number 44, he was towed while parked outside number 46.
Mr Blackburn said this incident was the last straw as he had now spent more than �1,000 on parking fines and towing charges from parking in bays the council claimed had been suspended.
On those four occasions he had no way of proving that the signs were not in place when he parked his vehicle.
"This time a neighbour who saw my car being removed challenged the removal men who gave the same reply as the council - that the warning sign had been up for 14 days," he said. "She knew this wasn't true. My neighbour also asked why my car was being removed since it was parked outside 46. She was told it was 'causing an obstruction'.
"She then spoke with the tree surgeon who had requested the suspension and he said it wasn't causing an obstruction. My neighbour even pointed out a vacant space close by and asked if my vehicle could be moved there as recommended by law and was told it had to go to the pound. To add insult to injury, my car was damaged in the removal process."
After the Ham&High's intervention, the council has agreed to refund the �260.
A council spokeswoman said: "Unfortunately the sign was vandalised and we are cancelling tickets issued to anyone who parked in that bay before the start of the suspension. We have now written to this individual to let him know we will be refunding the charges in full.