Westminster pockets thousands from its own parking ticket error

Westminster Council could make tens of thousands of pounds from its own mistake after wrongly issuing almost �60,000 worth of parking tickets.

The council took control of parking enforcement on the Lisson Green Estate earlier this year and issued �130 fines to 445 drivers between April 4 and October 23.

But, after one resident complained, parking chiefs were forced to admit that all tickets issued during that time were unenforceable since it was a trial period.

Now council bosses say they will only refund payments on receipt of a written request with details of when, where and why the parking ticket was issued.

Angry residents say this is not good enough as the council will continue to profit from the error – as the vast majority of drivers are unlikely to remember details of a ticket issued up to eight months ago.

Adbul Ahad, of the Tenants and Residents Association for Lisson Green (TARA), said: “The council has made a mistake and, instead of trying to correct it, they are putting the onus on the victims which isn’t right at all.

“To claim a refund, you need your parking ticket details. But as soon as a ticket is paid, most people don’t keep a record.

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“Asking people to remember the details is just unrealistic.”

Fellow TARA committee member Tony Redvers-Mutton, who initially brought the issue to the council’s attention, says that Westminster should endeavour to contact people who have paid fines and “give them their money back”.

Westminster resident Paul Pearson, who runs the website penaltychargenotice.co.uk, said: “What the council is doing is disgraceful. They issued tickets that they have admitted they shouldn’t have issued, so they shouldn’t profit from their error.

“They have stolen the money – it’s no less than highway robbery.”

The council says that 174 tickets have so far been cancelled, 136 fines have been wrongly paid and the rest are still outstanding.

A spokesman says its parking contractor NSL has accepted it failed to follow instructions by issuing tickets when it shouldn’t have. He added that the council was “confident this would not happen again”.

He said: “In line with our usual policy, we will be offering refunds to customers who apply.

“We will also be issuing a letter to the residents’ association for inclusion in their newsletter and will add a note to our own website as a means of communicating this.”

The news comes as another blow to Westminster Council, who were last week forced to postpone its proposed evening and weekend parking charges. For more, see page 3.