Parking wardens working for London’s local authorities routinely issue tickets against authority-owned vehicles. When this happens, the authority takes itself to court to argue that it shouldn’t have to pay fines to itself. Sometimes, they ask the courts to award themselves legal costs from their own pockets. This according to Barrie Segal, who published a book in 2007 on London’s insane parking enforcement called The Parking Ticket Awards: Crazy Councils, Meter Madness and Traffic Warden Hell.
It’s crazy, but not as crazy as it sounds: drivers for the authority have to pay their own tickets (so naturally they’ll fight them), and it’s actually kind of admirable for wardens to enforce parking rules against government employees as vigorously as they do the general public.
In 2007, Islington Council issued a parking ticket to one of its own vehicles. The department receiving the ticket disputed the validity of the Penalty Charge Notice and appealed against the fine. The council declined the appeal so the department took the case to the Parking Adjudicator. At this stage, the council submitted no evidence so the ticket was cancelled. The department that appealed the ticket then applied to have their costs reimbursed. The bewildered Adjudicator did not award costs, saying: “The legal status of the two parties in this appeal amounted to one and the same.”Mr Segal says: “You couldn’t make this up. This illustrates everything that is wrong with unaccountable parking enforcement in the UK. The craziest thing is that to ask for costs, Islington council must believe that it acted wholly unreasonably or vexatiously against itself.
“If they ever make a sequel to the film Dumb and Dumber I would suggest that the producers look no further than Islington Parking Department for the starring roles.”
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