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London Borough of Hillingdon (17 018 762)

Category : Transport and highways > Parking and other penalties

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Mar 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about a penalty charge notice because the complainant appealed to the tribunal. In addition, there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Mrs X, complains that the Council has not allowed her to pay a penalty charge notice at the reduced rate. She wants the Council to provide a £65 refund.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has appealed to a tribunal or a government minister or started court action about the matter. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6), as amended)
  3. London Tribunals (previously known as the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service) considers parking and moving traffic offence appeals for London.

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read the complaint and the Council’s response. I read the decision made by the tribunal adjudicator. I invited Mrs X to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. If somebody pays a penalty charge notice promptly, usually within 14 days, they benefit from a 50% discount. If they do not pay promptly, or they appeal to the tribunal and lose, then they must pay the full amount of the fine. It is not possible to appeal to the tribunal and pay the reduced rate.

What happened

  1. The Council issued Mrs X with a penalty charge notice. The fine was £130. Mrs X appealed to the tribunal. The tribunal dismissed her appeal and confirmed the penalty charge notice of £130. Mrs X challenged the tribunal’s decision. The tribunal dismissed her appeal.
  2. Mrs X paid the fine but believes the Council should have allowed her to pay at the discounted rate of £65 because she appealed promptly. Mrs X wants the Council to give her a £65 refund.

Assessment

  1. I cannot start an investigation because Mrs X appealed to the tribunal and the tribunal confirmed she must pay the fine of £130. The law prevents me from investigating any issue that has formed part of an appeal to the tribunal.
  2. I also will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council. This is because the law does not allow people to appeal to the tribunal and then pay the fine at the discounted rate. The discounted rate is only available to people who pay the fine promptly and do not appeal.

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Final decision

  1. I cannot start an investigation because Mrs X appealed to the tribunal and because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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