Richmond Council will repay over £1 million in wrongly issued penalty charge notices, after Council Leader Lord True admitted tickets were issued ‘when the authority should have known better’. The decision has been taken even though the Council is not legally compelled to do so.

Between April 2009 - April 2011 around 18,500 tickets were paid after being issued by incorrectly certified Council-operated CCTV patrol cars to motorists who had committed apparent parking violations in the borough. A ruling that the Council was wrong was given by the independent Parking Tribunal Service (PATAS) after a motorist appealed his PCN.

Speaking to the full Council on Tuesday, Lord True said:

“We will write to the registered owner of every vehicle against which a ticket was issued by our camera cars inviting them to apply for a refund. The Council took money from people when we were not entitled to. That was wrong, and the wrong should be put right. This is the just and proportionate action to take. The spy cars have been taken off the road until a full review of our parking service reports back to me by November.

“The money to be returned may be up to £1m, but the Cabinet is sure it is the right thing to do. For too long people have perceived local authorities as acting in a predatory and money grabbing manner when it comes to parking enforcement.

“We are putting our money where our mouth is, this proves that Richmond Council is on the side of local people, local businesses, and motorists.

“This Council has promised to deliver fair parking. At a time when trust in Government is so low, it is proper that when we have wrongly taken money from people we should give it back.

“I pay tribute to the motorist who pointed out the problem. His good old British doggedness has ultimately led the Council to this decision.”

Letters will be sent in the coming weeks to the registered owners of around 18,500 vehicles which received fixed penalty notices between April 2009 - April 2011 inviting them to return a simple application form for a refund. As the Council has the records of all people who were fined, no further proof will be required from the owners to claim their refund.

The cost of refunding the wrongly issued tickets will be covered by expected underspends in the Council’s budgets and from reserves. Richmond Council has been reviewing all its operations in response to the recession and low levels of Government funding, but no service will be cut specifically to make funds available for these repayments.

??– from a Richmond Council press release - 14 September 2011