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Refund hope on flawed tickets
9:21am Thursday 10th January 2013 in News
MOTORISTS could be entitled to fine refunds in Bury after an eagle-eyed driver spotted a paperwork error in a penalty notice.
Bury Council issued Chris Burton with a £30 fine after accusing him of driving in a bus lane.
But Mr Burton had the penalty quashed after proving the local authority’s paperwork was botched — because it gave an incorrect length of time for appeal.
Town hall chiefs have now corrected the error, but anyone who has received a fixed-penalty notice from the council beforehand for offences ranging from littering to illegal parking could now be in for a refund.
Mr Burton — who runs a motorists’ rights website called casedismissed.co.uk — said he was delighted to have won a victory over the council.
“I would now encourage as many people as possible to check their paperwork and see if they have the same circumstances as me. It could mean they get their money back.”
Mr Burton, aged 39, from Middleton, was driving his Kia Sedona car along Rochdale Road towards Bury town centre on April 11 last year in a bus lane.
He said: “I originally appealed against the fine because I was certain that I was using the bus lane before 4pm when the restrictions didn’t apply.
“And in the course of the appeal, I noticed that the council should have given me 28 days to respond to the penalty notice — but the dates on the paperwork showed they had actually given me 27 days.”
Mr Burton presented that information to a Traffic Penalty Tribunal and, after considering it, an adjudicator threw out the case the day before a planned hearing at the Minshull Street Courts in Manchester on December 5.
Bury Council was ordered to quash his fine and was provided with recommendations on how to correct the problem.
A Bury Council spokesman said: “Mr. Burton’s appeal revolved around the time we filmed his vehicle in the bus lane at Rochdale Road and Mr Burton claiming that he was in a meeting at the time.
“The adjudicator chose to review the case on the issue dates of the penalty-charge notice and we have accepted this adjudicator’s decision.
“We have subsequently made arrangements with the information computer technology supplier to amend the notice-processing software system to take into account the recommendations of the adjudicator.”
However, the council insists the case does not set a precedent for other people.
The spokesman added: “There has been no instruction from the tribunal that this affects other cases, as under Traffic Management Act 2004, all appeals are addressed on their individual merits.”
That means that anyone who received a penalty notice from the council before the council amended its computer system on December 6 would have to appeal the decision in the same way Mr Burton did.
Mr Burton added: “My case proves it is worth fighting. If the paperwork is wrong, then why should the individual pay up?
“The council should know that the rules are there for a reason.
“I would encourage other people to visit the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service website at patas.gov.uk/tmaadjudicators/ “Depending on whether the same IT company manages the notices for other Bury Council fines, for things such as littering and dog fouling, those people could too have a case, though appealing those kind of cases is difficult.”
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