A long and arduous court battle between Barnet resident David Attfield, 46, and his local council has ruled in favour of the motorist.
Mr Attfield launched his fight with Barnet Council, north London after it increased the cost of a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) permit for a first car from £40 to £100 per year and visitors’ vouchers from £1 to £4.
Local residents claimed that the price hike of 2011 made parking on Barnet’s residential streets “more expensive than parking outside Harrods”.
But yesterday, in a landmark ruling, Mrs Justice Lang at the High Court concluded that raising money through the parking fees was “unlawful”. The judgement could pave the way for claims to refund millions of pounds in unlawful charges.
The Tory-run council argued that the move was justified because it planned to use the funds raised to make road improvements and other road transport costs. But the cost of Controlled Parking Zones steadily increased year-on-year until they were among the most expensive permit charges in London.
Mrs Justice Lang said the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act “is not a fiscal measure and does not authorise the authority to use its powers to charge local residents for parking in order to raise surplus revenue for other transport purposes”.
Paul Watters, of the AA, said: “This case must be a warning to other local authorities that try to profit from ramped up charges, extended controlled zones, or argue for increased levels of penalty when there is already sufficient deterrent.”
Despite the ruling, Barnet Council leader Richard Cornelius believes the prices are fair and “very much in line with other London boroughs.”
He added: “I don’t think we have any alternative but to look to appeal this decision.”
What do you think of the decision? A landmark day for motorists or an unfair bashing of local councils? Have your say below.
July 23, 2013