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Debates: Issue 245 2 Aug 2012

Ballot box is the best safeguard, says Nick Lester

Nick Lester defends democratic control over parking policies in Enforcement Summit address

Mark Moran

The current approach for listening to drivers’ appeals on both individual penalty charge notices (PCNs) and influencing parking policy shows that civil parking and moving traffic regulations are robust and responsive, Nick Lester, director of services at London Councils, told the Enforcement Summit 2012. Lester said that independent parking adjudication tribunals provide motorists with a free and accessible avenue in which to contest PCNs.

The robustness of parking tribunals is, he...

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Your Comments:

8 Aug 2012

Mr Lester’s starry-eyed approval of the democratic process in relation to the adequacy of an authority’s traffic and parking enforcement is manifestly risible.

Admittedly with some commendable exceptions elected members, not least council leaders and portfolio holders of transport matters, are too frequently as thick as thieves with their officers when issues of irregularities in policies and, particularly enforcement matters arise. Many enforcement authorities whom Mr Lester in part represents live in their own worlds where they can do no wrong. When they are exposed to have done wrong in substantial measure, the democratic membership so admired by Mr Lester closes ranks as a reflex action instead of invoking corrective propriety.

The parking tribunals with which he is so unquestioningly enamoured undoubtedly provide a beneficial service but their own irregularities, disgraceful inconsistencies, and erratic appeal decisions - some serious, will continue until they and their adjudicators are subject to external scrutiny and control. To date they are accountable to no-one.

He should be more cautious about pronouncing so authoritatively with favour about one “recently published decision” of which he has no real understanding, being a mouthpiece for the council concerned who must be defended at all costs. If he were more knowledgeable (or more forthcoming) he would or should be alarmed to know of the secret facilities provided to the subject council by PATAS, a supposedly-independent tribunal, in their co-operative attempt to provide maximum assistance to the council’s case in the face of their defective CCTV enforcement equipment that was in issue. Had Mr Lester been more knowledgeable of the unreported details he would have known that these adjudicators are equally to be criticised or more so for their wholly-improper and impertinent derogatory dismissal of expert witness evidence against the council and their failure to castigate the council’s unforgivable defamatory and wholly wrong assertions about the appellants’ representatives as being illegal mercenaries.

The tireless efforts of the wholly-legal and legitimate energetic representatives of the appellants have been so obviously of massive benefit to those whom they have represented and thousands more. This makes nonsense of the politically-gratuitous statement of the adjudicators, the publicity of the council concerned and Mr Lester’s repeating of it.

Mr Lester would have done better not to have commented at all on this particular shabby event – at least until he could report it adequately and even-handedly. Misinformation and incomplete information, either wilful or benignly inadvertent, is a powerful political tool that sits in the province of Mr Lester’s democratic process but should not live in the realms of parking tribunals.