Geoff Green is parking mad after spending more than half his life paying for a car permit he didn’t need.
Now the retired barber is demanding a full refund for 34 years of fees, after accusing council officials of “ripping off” dozens of drivers for parking outside their own homes.
An appeal over a parking ticket revealed that the parking disc scheme was not being run in accordance with traffic laws and was confusing.
Other residents in the St Mark’s area of Preston are now backing Geoff’s campaign, (pictured right), which has also won the support of MP Mark Hendrick who has accused the city council of “negligence.”
“I’ve been telling them for more than 30 years this wasn’t fair and now, finally, I’ve been proved right,” said Geoff. “I want my money back – all of it.”
Residential parking permits have been in force in the area around St Mark’s Road and Wellington Street since the old British Aerospace factory in nearby Strand Road was in production. It closed in the early 1990s.
I’ve been telling them for more than 30 years this wasn’t fair and now, finally, I’ve been proved right,” said Geoff. “I want my money back – all of it.
Retired couple Tom and Christine Gaskell have also been paying for permits “religiously” for the last 26 years to park outside their terraced house in Wellington Street. The disc costs £29 a year, with visitor permits costing an additional £5 each.
“We’re pensioners and we could do without having to pay to have our car outside the front door,” said Tom. “We also have two daughters who visit us every week, so we have to pay for them too.
“These discs were first issued to stop Aerospace workers parking down here. The factory hasn’t been there for at least 20 years, yet the council are still charging us. It’s ridiculous.”
The controversy was first uncovered when Geoff got a £70 ticket for leaving his car on Wellington Street in June 2015. He complained, saying he had just changed his vehicle and his valid resident’s permit was in the process of being changed.
The case went to the independent Traffic Penalty Tribunal in December 2015 and the adjudicator, Jill Yates, allowed his appeal, ruling that the penalty notice should not have been issued because the parking scheme in the St Mark’s area was unclear. There were single yellow lines prohibiting waiting between 8am and 6pm and also some sections which allowed parking for up to two hours.
In her three-page adjudication, Ms Yates said: “I find that the council are seeking to operate a parking scheme which is not in accordance with a traffic regulation order and that they have not provided sufficient information to make Mr Green aware of the requirements.
“It therefore appears that the parking arrangements in that road (Wellington Street), as operated by the council, are somewhat different to those envisaged by the order. I do not know how local residents who hold permits know where they are permitted to park.”
Preston MP Mark Hendrick has taken up the case and, in a letter to Preston Council chief executive Lorraine Norris, has expressed his concern about the St Mark’s parking scheme.
“Mr Green has been informed that 101 residential parking permits were issued by Preston City Council between 22.12.15 and 31.3.17.
“I would like to know why PCC is knowingly accepting nearly £3,000 from residents in the St Mark’s area of Preston when it has been outlined that the residential parking scheme has not been written into the Traffic Regulation Order correctly. Surely no monies should be taken from residential parking permits at all.
“It makes me question how many other residents of Preston have been asked to pay for residential parking permits when they should not and how much money PCC is making from residents who are affected by this negligence?”
Geoff said: “The council has been ripping people off for years. I’ve been disputing this since 1983. I’ve been paying this charge for 34 years. I reckon they owe me about £900. Preston Council is trying to blame the County Council, But they are just trying to pass the buck. They imposed this, they have policed it until April this year, so it is Preston who I blame.
“The only reason it is there is to raise revenue. It’s not justifiable, in fact it’s virtual extortion.”
Another Wellington Street resident, Cath King, said: “We’ve had these permits for years. Ours is due for renewal next month, but we don’t know what to do now.
“Parking in this whole area is confusing. It needs sorting out.”
Young mum Corinne Downes, who also lives in Wellington Street, said: “It’s just a money-making scheme. People are getting ripped off. If I’m honest I don’t buy a permit anymore because I don’t think they are policing them. We haven’t seen a traffic warden down here for three or four years. Yet a lot of people are still paying. If it isn’t fair then people should definitely get their money back. It’s absolutely disgusting.”
Preston Council deny they are responsible for the permit scheme, even though they administered it up to April 1 this year. Instead they point the finger at County Hall.
A spokesman said: “The city council administered the resident parking scheme on behalf of Lancashire County Council until April 1, 2017. It was, and continues to be, the county council who is responsible for on-street parking enforcement including the making of Traffic Regulation Orders.”
An LCC spokesman said: “At the time this scheme was put in place the current legislation governing residential parking schemes did not exist.
“We are considering proposals to update the scheme and will contact the residents in due course.”
Residents’ parking discs
County Hall controls the issue of parking permits for residents of 117 streets in 22 zones across the city.
But anyone going on to the LCC website to renew a disc in the St Mark’s area are met with the following message:
“If you are a permit holder in the St Mark’s area of Preston you will be unable to apply for a permit at this moment in time.
“However your current permit will remain valid until you are contacted by the council.”
Residents’ parking permits cost £29 for the first one and £45 for a second.
Visitor permits are now £8 for a month, £22 for three months, £40 for six months and £75 for a full year. Only two resident and two visitor passes will be allowed per household.
A business permit (a maximum of one per business) is £125 for a year. Blue badge holders are allowed one permit, either resident or visitor.
Applications for all permits must be made to Lancashire Parking Services , Permits Section, PO Box 1023, Preston