Maida Vale estate agents guilty of parking fraud

Six Greene & Co employees fraudulently obtained resident parking permits to save tens of thousands of pounds

A Maida Vale estate agent has been made to pay more than �8,000 after six of its employees used false addresses to obtain free parking.

All but one of the staff at Greene & Co on Lauderdale Parade claimed they lived in Westminster to gain resident parking permits and save the firm what is estimated to be tens of thousands of pounds in parking fees.

In fact the workers lived as far away as Bushey and Enfield.

When two of the employees – those who hadn’t already pleaded guilty – were hauled up in front of City of Westminster Magistrates Court last week they claimed they were encouraged to apply for the permits by senior management.

Westminster Council’s fraud investigations manager Steve Barry said the matter started with an anonymous tip-off that employee Ben Curtis wasn’t living at the address matching his permit.

“One of my staff went round to the address and found the property was being refurbished and no one could possibly be living there,” he said. “He went to the estate agent, found Ben Curtis and took the badge from him.

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“We then decided to put all the Greene and Co employees into the database and found that six of the seven employees claimed to be residents in Westminster but they all had addresses elsewhere.”

On June 22 Winchmore Hill resident Mr Curtis pleaded guilty to claiming for an address on Elgin Avenue. He was fined �700 plus �450 costs and �15 victim surcharge.

Ealing resident Ed Bloom, Mill Hill resident Sarah Webber and Bushey resident Matthew Sheldon were also fined after pleading guilty.

Two employees, Edgware resident Daniel Ginsburg and Southgate resident Simon Cole, initially pleaded not guilty and appeared in court last week. They both changed their plea to guilty and Mr Cole, assistant manager of the branch, was ordered to pay a total of �2,285 with Mr Ginsburg told to pay �1,315.

Westminster Council has now prosecuted 11 people for resident parking permit fraud and disabled badge fraud this year.

“The misuse of resident permits is a problem because residents see people coming into the borough and taking their spaces and it’s also a loss of revenue for the council,” said Mr Barry.

“We have had problems with estate agents in the past but it’s unusual to find so many staff in one branch guilty. Nearly all of the staff from the branch were doing it.”

Greene and Co declined to comment.