Former Camden parking boss calls for end to hefty bailiff fines for parking tickets
PUBLISHED: 15:30 30 March 2012 | UPDATED: 15:49 30 March 2012
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A former parking boss is calling on Camden Council to rip up “carte-blanche contracts” which he claims allow bailiffs to massively overcharge motorists for outstanding fines.
Cllr Chris Knight, who was cabinet member for environment from 2008-2010, said the council is failing its communities in allowing bailiffs free rein to rack up bills of hundreds of pounds for £60 parking charges.
The cash collectors can charge residents up to £80 for a home visit and £11 just to write a letter.
Karen Katz, from Dartmouth Park, had her Volkswagen Polo clamped as she was about to take her infant son to the dentist.
Bailiffs threatened to tow the vehicle unless she paid £550 for a £60 parking ticket which had been sent to her old address, despite the council holding her new address, phone number and email on file.
“I was really upset about the way it was all handled because the council should have got in touch given they have all my information,” she said.
“It would have been courteous of them to send me an email.”
The mother-of-one, who works as a film producer, incurred the charges after forgetting to inform the DVLA of her change of address from Belsize Crescent. She is considering legal action.
The council holds contracts with six different bailiff firms to collect road traffic fines which have not been paid, according to information released under the freedom of information act.
All bailiff contractors work under “self-financing” agreements – collecting their fees directly from residents.
Cllr Knight has asked the council to re-write the contracts and introduce a cap on fines.
“I want fairness,” he said. “The fine should be in proportion to the offence. It seems to me that Camden has a bailiff’s charter for them to charge as much as they like.
“Residents of Camden are being heavily fined for making small mistakes and they really need a bit more leeway. I have always taken the view that parking should be fair.”
A spokeswoman for the London Motorist Action Group, which is campaigning against overcharging, backed the calls.
She said: “Some people are being charged more than £1,000 for a parking ticket. It’s absolutely ridiculous and councils can revisit those contracts.”
A spokes**PERSON** for the council said: “QUOTE TO COME
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