London Borough of Camden (20 002 344)

Category : Transport and highways > COVID-19

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 01 Dec 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Council provided clear information to the public on its website about temporary changes to parking enforcement during the first lockdown. It acted in line with guidance from London Councils and so there is no fault.

The complaint

  1. Ms X complains London Borough of Camden (the Council) didn’t publicise its decision to limit parking enforcement during the first national lockdown. She says the Council should have told her enforcement was being targeted on parking that was dangerous or impeding emergency services vehicles, before she bought visitors’ permits.
  2. Ms X says she would not have bought visitors’ permits had she known and so has suffered a financial loss.

Back to top

The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. This complaint involves events during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government introduced a range of new and frequently updated rules and guidance during this time. We can consider whether the council followed the relevant legislation, guidance and our published Good Administrative Practice during the response to Covid-19. This guidance says we expect councils to be open to the public about any new criteria, thresholds and timescales.
  2. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

Back to top

How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered Ms X’s complaint to the Ombudsman, the Council’s response and information described in the next section of this statement
  2. Ms X and the Council had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.

Back to top

What I found

Relevant guidance

  1. London Councils Guidance for London Local Authority Parking Management and COVID-19, March 2020, says:
    • Enforcement activity should focus on more serious contraventions like obstructive or dangerous parking.
    • To help those who are self-isolating, councils should take a practical approach to unlawful parking which is not causing an obstruction, particularly in Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs.)
  2. Further guidance from London Councils, the Local Government Association and the British Parking Association (issued 13 May 2020) advises councils should continue to focus parking enforcement on dangerous, obstructive and anti-social parking. The guidance went on to say:
    • It was likely councils would need to reintroduce enforcement at some locations which previously had some form of suspension.
    • Reintroduction should focus on locations where lack of controls have an impact on safety and traffic management.
    • Any changes to procedure and restrictions should be publicised on council websites.

What happened

  1. Information on the Council’s website on 1 April 2020 said the Council had changed how it was managing parking to keep essential services running smoothly. It said:
    • Parking wardens would continue to patrol but would provide a marshalling support service to direct those key workers who had been provided with free parking.
    • It would not remove vehicles but would move vehicles causing an obstruction or that were parked dangerously.
  2. Ms X bought visitors’ parking permits at the start of June. She told us she was not aware the Council had relaxed parking enforcement.
  3. In the middle of June, the Council emailed permit holders in CPZs (including Ms X) saying it was restarting parking enforcement. It said it had been focussing on enforcing dangerous or obstructive parking. The email went on to say the Council would begin issuing penalty charge notices the following week.
  4. Ms X complained to the Council in July and asked for a refund. The Council apologised for conflicting messages around enforcement but said it would not refund her because there was no suspension of the CPZ.
  5. The Council told us Ms X had properly bought visitors’ permits and so it would not refund her. The Council said parking services undertook ‘much less enforcement’ during lockdown, but vehicles parked in breach of restrictions were tolerated except where parked dangerously or where they were an obstruction.

Was there fault?

  1. The message on the Council’s website at the start of April was clear. It explained parking wardens’ duties were changing to support the free parking the Council had introduced to NHS and key workers and enforcement would be focused on dangerous or obstructive parking. The Council acted in line with the guidance from London Councils set out in paragraphs seven and eight in line with our own guidance which says we expect councils to be open about any changes to services and so there is no fault.

Final decision

  1. The Council provided clear information to the public on its website about temporary changes to parking enforcement during the first lockdown. It acted in line with guidance from London Councils and so there is no fault.
  2. I have completed the investigation.

Back to top

Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

Print this page

LGO logogram

Review your privacy settings

Required cookies

These cookies enable the website to function properly. You can only disable these by changing your browser preferences, but this will affect how the website performs.

View required cookies

Analytical cookies

Google Analytics cookies help us improve the performance of the website by understanding how visitors use the site.
We recommend you set these 'ON'.

View analytical cookies

In using Google Analytics, we do not collect or store personal information that could identify you (for example your name or address). We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data. Google has developed a tool to help you opt out of Google Analytics cookies.

Privacy settings