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London Borough of Southwark (21 000 547)

Category : Transport and highways > Parking and other penalties

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 06 Dec 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr C complained the Council wrongly issued two penalty charge notices for the same parking contravention and clamped his car. Mr C says he spent unnecessary time and trouble in trying to resolve the matter and could not use his car for a day. We have found fault by the Council but consider the agreed action of a payment of £175 provides a suitable remedy.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mr C, complains the Council wrongly issued two penalty charge notices for the same parking contravention and clamped his car for a day. Mr C says because of the Council’s fault, he spent unnecessary time and trouble in trying to resolve the matter and could not use his car for the day.

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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’. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
  2. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read the papers provided by Mr C and discussed the complaint with him. I have considered some information from the Council and provided a copy of this to Mr C. I have explained my draft decision to Mr C and the Council and considered the comments received before reaching my final decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr C received two penalty charge notices (PCNs) towards the end of December 2019 for parking in a loading bay. The second PCN was issued for the same contravention on the same day at the same location. The Council has accepted the second PCN should not have been issued.
  2. Mr C paid the first PCN in January 2020 at a cost of £65. Mr C did not pay or challenge the second PCN. Mr C says he was not aware of the second PCN.
  3. The second PCN went through the statutory process. This included the Council sending Mr C a Notice to Owner dated 28 January 2020, a Charge Certificate dated 6 March and Order for Recovery requiring payment by 27 July. The Council’s enforcement agent sent a compliance notice to Mr C on 19 September to say the court had issued a warrant and if the amount was not paid by 2 October they may visit and take control of belongings. Mr C did not respond to these notifications or contact the Council. Mr C says he did not receive any of these notifications sent from both the Council and enforcement agent. Based on the evidence provided I cannot say Mr C did not receive these notifications due to some fault by the Council. On balance, I am satisfied these notifications were sent. I note the reference numbers for the two PCNs were similar and Mr C may have considered he had already paid the PCN. Nevertheless, it would have been prudent for Mr C to have queried these notifications with the Council.
  4. The Council’s enforcement agent visited Mr C’s property on 6 October and clamped his car. Mr C says he found his car had been clamped at 10am. Mr C contacted the Council and it was established the second PCN should not have been issued and his car was released in the early evening and the warrant for control was withdrawn.
  5. Mr C complained to the Council. The Council accepted the second PCN should not have been issued but noted Mr C did not respond to any of the subsequent notifications when the matter could have been resolved. The Council apologised to Mr C and offered £65 as a remedy.
  6. Mr C says this amount is not enough to remedy the impact of his car being clamped for the day. I agree. It is clear that but for the Council’s fault Mr C’s car would not have been clamped in the first place. However, I have also noted that Mr C did not take any action to mitigate this impact by responding to the Council’s notifications. Mr C has not provided evidence of quantifiable losses incurred due to the time his car was clamped. Considering all the circumstances, I consider an increased payment should be made to reflect Mr C’s upset, inconvenience and time and trouble.

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Agreed action

  1. The Council has agreed to provide a total payment (to include the previously offered £65) of £175 to Mr C in recognition of his upset, inconvenience and time and trouble within six weeks of my final decision. This would also provide a reasonable amount for any reasonable public transport costs or taxi fares incurred on the day.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation as I have found fault by the Council but consider the agreed action above is enough to provide a suitable remedy.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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