Sunday, 13 October 2013

Are you in a similar situation? And Barnet aren't following the spirit of the judgment.

Problems with other Councils

We've received many emails from people up and down the country letting us know of problems they are experiencing with their councils. Often people are seeking our advice on what they should do. It's clear that many councils are alienating residents through their actions, particularly over parking.

We're sorry but we're not able to provide advice about other situations. In part, this is due to time constraints but also because each situation is unique and usually complex. We would however just make the following points:

1. If you are thinking of challenging parking charges imposed by your council, look to see if there is actual hard evidence that the council is motivated by raising revenue. We won our case against Barnet Council, and felt confident enough to bring it, because of clear undisputed evidence that the council raised parking charges for the minority residents in CPZs in order to raise money and thereby keep the council tax down. Other challenges against Westminster and Camden failed because there wasn't this sort of clear evidence of revenue raising.

2. In most cases, the way to challenge the actions of your council is to bring a judicial review action. This is a legal action brought in the High Court. These need to be brought promptly, within three months at most of the decision which you are challenging having been taken.  High Court actions are also costly (tens of thousands of pounds at least) and recent changes mean that you are now unlikely to take advantage of a "no win, no fee" agreement with your solicitors in order to help bring a claim.

Barnet don't follow the spirit of the judgment

A supporter has told us that Barnet are refusing to reimburse residents who bought half day visitor vouchers for £2.20 even though the effect of the Court ruling is that residents should only have been charged £1 for a whole day.

Strictly Barnet may be right in that half day vouchers (introduced a year after the other increases), were not technically part of the legal action. But surely if the effect of the court ruling is to reduce the cost of a full day voucher to £1, the Council should follow the spirit of the judgment and also reimburse people who bought half day vouchers so that they too only pay £1?    

Friday, 4 October 2013

Update: 4 October 2013

Progress towards sorting out the costs of the legal action is, unfortunately, very slow.

Although Barnet Council has been ordered to pay the costs of the legal action, this may take months to resolve.  This is because the losing party in litigation (in this case Barnet) invariably wants to scrutinise the legal costs of the winning party (David Attfield) carefully,  and may want to challenge aspects of the legal bill.   If the amount to be paid cannot be agreed, this will have to be referred to a specialist costs judge to resolve.

We are of course committed to repaying as much of the donated money as we can but are unable to do so until we receive from Barnet the money we have had to pay out (in particular the cost of the premium of the legal costs insurance we took out which is how most of the donated money was spent).

The delay in sorting out how much of the donated money can be returned is frustrating but please bear with us.

Also, a reminder:   Barnet Council will not be contacting households who are entitled to be refunded the amount that they have been over-charged for parking permits and visitor vouchers over the past couple of years.  You have to apply to the council for a refund.

Here is what you need to know:

What can be reclaimed?

Only the additional cost to the price of residents's parking permits and visitor vouchers can be reclaimed.  So, if you purchased 10 visitor vouchers at £4 each, you can claim £30 since you should have been charged £1 for each voucher or £10 in total. 

If you have paid £100 for your parking permit in 2011 and in 2012, then you can claim £120 since you should have been charged only £40 in each of 2011 and 2012.

How do I claim? 

You should fill out an e-form on Barnet Council’s website, providing details of your name, telephone number, address, permit ID, if they have it, and car registration number.
Alternatively,  you can email the council at
Or write to Parking Team, CPZ Parking Refunds, London Borough of Barnet, Building 4, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP.    

This link will take you to the Council's website where you can access the e-form.