Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 24 Mar 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council issuing Penalty Charge Notices in error to him and other motorists. This is because there is no outstanding injustice to Mr X as the Council has cancelled or refunded the Penalty Charge Notices. It has also taken action to stop the Penalty Charge Notices from being issued again in error.
- Mr X complains of the Council issuing Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) to him and other motorists for parking at a particular location. Mr X says the Council is aware they should not be issued as motorists are allowed to park there. He says this has continued to happen over the last six years and the Council has recently issued him another PCN. Mr X says this has made him feel frustrated and stressed as he has had to constantly appeal these charges. He would like the Council to apologise and refund all motorists who have received a PCN for parking there and for the Council to have a better system in place so this does not continue.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone can appeal to a tribunal. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to appeal. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(a), as amended)
- London Tribunals (previously known as the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service) considers parking and moving traffic offence appeals for London.
- 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 or continue with an investigation if we believe:
- the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
- the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
- there is another body better placed to consider this complaint.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information Mr X provided with his complaint. I also considered the information the Council provided. I considered Mr X’s comments on a draft version of this decision.
What I found
- Mr X says the Council issued him a PCN about six years ago for parking in a special enforcement area adjacent to a footway, cycle track or verge lowered to meet the level of a carriage way. Mr X appealed his PCN and told the Council the lowered footway at that location was not for the purpose of a footway or cycle verge but for bin lorry access. The Council cancelled his PCN upon receiving his appeal without him having to appeal to an adjudicator at the London Tribunals.
- Mr X says since then, he has seen the Council’s Civil Enforcement Officers have continued to issue PCN’s to motorists who have parked in that location for the same reason despite the Council being aware this should not be happening.
- In January 2020, Mr X wrote to his local MP and made them aware of the Council continuing to issue PCN’s to motorists for parking at that location. He provided the MP with images of a car parked at that location which the Council had issued a PCN to. He also provided the MP with information he got from the Council about how many PCN’s had been issued. The MP made representations to the Council in February 2020 and confirmed the PCN in the image supplied, had been issued in error and the Civil Enforcement Officer who issued it had been briefed to stop this from happening again.
- In January 2021, a Civil Enforcement Officer issued Mr X a PCN again, for parking at the same location. Mr X appealed his PCN and it was cancelled because it was issued in error. The Council said Mr X’s PCN and all other PCN’s issued at the location for the same offence have been cancelled or refunded at the informal stage. It added the error has been addressed and all Civil Enforcement Officers have been briefed accordingly and it has been highlighted as a training need for any new Civil Enforcement Officers.
- We will not start an investigation for the following reasons:
- Mr X appealed his PCN to the Council. The Council recognised the PCN was issued in error and cancelled it.
- The Council also recognised it is a wider issue and cancelled or refunded all other PCN’s issued at the location for the same offence. In addition, it has raised the issue with Civil Enforcement Officers and highlighted it as a training need for any new Civil Enforcement Officers.
- Mr X could have appealed against the PCN’s to an adjudicator at the London Tribunals if the Council had not cancelled them at the informal level.
- There is no remaining significant personal injustice to Mr X which needs remedying.
- We will not investigate this complaint because there is no remaining significant personal injustice to Mr X requiring a remedy.
Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman