Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 18 Jul 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about a Penalty Charge Notice because the complainant appealed to the tribunal.
- The complainant, whom I refer to as Mrs X, says it is unfair for the Authority to demand £130 when she parked her car just a few minutes before the enforcement period ended. Mrs X wants to pay at the reduced rate of £65.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- 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)
- London Tribunals (previously known as the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service) considers parking and moving traffic offence appeals for London.
How I considered this complaint
- I read the complaint and the decision made by the tribunal. I considered comments Ms X in reply to a draft of this decision.
What I found
Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)
- A PCN is reduced by 50% if the person pays the fine promptly and does not appeal to the tribunal. If someone appeals to the tribunal, and loses, they must pay the full fine.
- The Authority issued Mrs X with a PCN for £130. It issued the PCN because Mrs X stopped while the road was subject to a ‘no stopping’ rule.
- Mrs X appealed to the tribunal. The tribunal dismissed the appeal. The tribunal adjudicator said that Mrs X stopped at 18.54 and the ‘no stopping’ rule was in force until 19.00. The adjudicator directed Mrs X to pay £130 and said the period to pay at the discounted rate had expired.
- Mrs X says the fine is unfair because she only stopped a few minutes early. She also says she cannot afford to pay £130. Mrs X wants to pay the fine at the reduced rate of £65. She says the Authority doubled the fine and is punishing her because she appealed.
- The Authority told Mrs X that if she does not pay it will take enforcement action. If the Authority takes enforcement action Mrs X will incur further costs.
- I cannot start an investigation because Mrs X appealed to the tribunal. The law says the Ombudsman cannot investigate any complaint that has been dealt with by the tribunal. The tribunal considered the appeal and decided that Mrs X must pay £130. It also explained that the discounted rate was no longer available. I cannot comment on a decision made by the tribunal and I cannot intervene. I cannot reduce the fine or ask the Authority to allow Mrs X to pay £65.
- Mrs X says the Authority doubled the fine as a punishment for appealing. This is not the case. The fine was £130. The Authority, in accordance with the law, offers a 50% reduction to people who pay promptly and do not appeal. Mrs X decided not to take advantage of the reduced rate. She decided to use her appeal rights but, because she lost, she has to pay the standard rate of the fine.
- If Mrs X does not pay the Authority is likely to take further action which will lead to Mrs X incurring further costs.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman