Westminster bikers take parking campaign to the EU

WESTMINSTER parking campaigners are taking their fight to the European Union to challenge �200million-worth of parking enforcement contracts across the country.

The group of motorcyclists, led by the Westminster-based No to the Bike Parking Tax, is asking for an investigation into the awarding of parking contracts to the former National Car Parks Ltd which split to become NCP Services Ltd, since renamed NSL Ltd, and National Car Parks in 2007.

The 70-strong delegation is due to arrive in Brussels today to put their case to EU Commissioners and MEP Gerard Batten.

When it was formed – a result of the original company splitting in two – NSL Ltd acquired the contracts given by Westminster council and 40 other councils nationwide including Camden to run their parking enforcement.

But campaigners argue that the split effectively made NSL Ltd a new company which means they should have been considered as such during the tendering process.

Warren Djanogly, No to the Bike Parking Tax chairman, said: “To get a public authority contract you have to be a long-established company of good repute.

“When NSL Ltd formed they went to all the councils and said it was ‘business as usual’. But you are not allowed to do that. You have to re-tender it.

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“It really is a scandal.”

The group argues that if the issuer of parking tickets is not properly authorised to enter the contract – as they claim is the case with NSL Ltd – all parking tickets given by the company are void.

If this is declared to be true by the EU, they say all parking tickets issued by NSL Ltd in Westminster and the other councils should be declared illegal and refunded immediately.

“We want them to declare these contracts illegal,” said Mr Djanogly. “If they do that we can say we want our money back.

“In the UK councils look after private companies and private companies look after councils.

“We have seen the establishment club together for long enough in this country and we will not stand for it.”

The group is taking its case to the EU after District Auditors in the UK judged their evidence related to National Car Parks to be proof of “group re-organisation” and therefore legally sound.

Tim Cowen, director of communications at NSL, said: “The biking campaign group’s claims about the legal robustness of NSL’s demerger three years ago have no basis in fact and anyone who suggests otherwise either doesn’t know the law or is deliberately misinterpreting it.

“They are wasting their time, but I understand that Brussels is very nice at this time of the year, so hopefully they will have a pleasant trip.”

Westminster’s parking boss Cllr Lee Rowley said: “The contract the protesters are referring to expired some time ago, so it’s difficult to see what scope there is for an intervention by the Commission or what purpose an investigation could serve.

“In addition, we are confident that the contract remained valid throughout the time it was in operation.”