Council pays up £17k in fines fiasco

Central Beds have refunded £17,600 to drivers in illegal penalty charge notices so far after an incorrect sign was displayed for nearly 18 months.

Following the parking adjudicator’s decision in June 2014, it was ruled that the penalty charge notices handed to drivers in Court Drive, Dunstable, were unjust.

In spite of the ruling in June, a further seven drivers were fined in error.

The council stated a grand total of 826 penalty charge notices were issued from January 2013 to October 2014.

Barring the charges already challenged by drivers and others which were legal, the council earmarked 584 as eligible for refunds and hopes to complete the process by the end of February.

Mike Boyle, who runs nearby Mike’s Chip Shop in Vernon Place, received a penalty charge back in 2013.

He said: “I got mine refunded at the time after I complained. I think I was just unloading stuff into my shop.

“Basically, they said it was my fault but they understood my situation. A lot of customers complained about it.”

The signage, in the lay-by next to the Gary Cooper pub, has since been corrected by the council.

Although £17,600 has been refunded so far, the process is ongoing. One man was allegedly paid a £250 goodwill payment in addition to his £80 fine, with £175 bailiff costs.

Marcel Coiffait, director of community services, said: “Central Bedfordshire Council is still in the process of reimbursing those who were incorrectly ticketed in Court Drive. So far we have sent out around £17,600 of refunds.

“We are still trying to get in touch with some people who have not responded to our initial letters and are still waiting on details of others from the DVLA for whom we don’t hold contact information.

“Of the 826 penalty charge notices issued between January 2013 and October 2014, some were issued to people illegally parked in a bay where the signage was correct while others were declared void before any payment was made so we are reimbursing 584 of those issued.

“The council acted as soon as it was made aware of the problem. Unfortunately seven tickets were issued in error between June and August of last year, although we extended the review until the end of October to make sure that no one else had been incorrectly ticketed – which they hadn’t.

“Before we were able to reimburse anyone we had to review all of the information, signage and processes. As I have said previously, we fully accept that mistakes were made for which we apologise and are now taking all possible steps to rectify them.”