EXCLUSIVE: York Council Stops Lendal Bridge & Coppergate Refunds
12:11pm 30th April 2014
(Updated 2:08pm 30th April 2014)
York Council has halted refunds to drivers caught out by the controversial use of cameras on Lendal Bridge and Coppergate until the legal row over their use has been settled.
A Minster FM listener forwarded us an e-mail which was sent to around 200 people who are appealing their fines by council official Darren Richardson.
Request for Bus Lane Enforcement refund
Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the Lendal Bridge / Coppergate bus lane enforcement scheme.
A Traffic Penalty Adjudicator has recently ruled that the Traffic Regulation Order on which the bus lane enforcement scheme is founded is not compatible with camera based civil enforcement, calling into question the council's power to issue Penalty Charge Notices.
As a result, City of York Council have sought the opinion of expert Counsel and based on this we are confident that this decision can be successfully contested.
No refunds will therefore be issued until such time as a definitive conclusion has been reached. In the event that refunds become necessary, City of York Council will contact you again.
Until this process has been completed, I am afraid it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on this matter.
Director of City & Environmental Services
At the start of the month, Minster FM exclusively revealed a decision by a government traffic judge meant that the city council could not use it's cameras to issue fines at Lendal Bridge and Coppergate. The council has since spent £6,900 on barrister's fees which has led to their legal advice saying they would win an appeal. The appeal against the government traffic adjudicator's decision is due to be heard in the next few weeks.
The fall out from that decision by the government traffic judge led to the controversial Lendal Bridge restrictions being abandoned and the councillor responsible for Transport, Dave Merrett, being shifted out of his role.
Previously, many people had obtained refunds as the council was putting fine appeals into batches and letting some off the £60 fines, while challenging others. It was a process which was criticised by the traffic adjudicator, who said more resources needed to be put into the appeals system.
Paul Lawrence from Leeds was fined for going over Lendal Bridge on his way to a concert at York Minster. He says the council is being unfair.
DATA PROTECTION BREACH ACCUSATIONS
There have also been concerns raised that York Council may have broken data protection and privacy laws in yesterday's mass e-mail.
The e-mail, which was sent to around two hundred people, included all of the recipients' e-mail addresses.
A "reply all" response from one man, Paul Lawrence, asked if the council if they had broken data protection laws.
York Council sent a second e-mail to those who had their e-mail addresses shared saying:
I sincerely apologise for the error that was made in sending out the email yesterday regarding bus lane enforcement which included sight of a number of email addresses. We are taking this matter very seriously and are investigating how it occurred and ways to prevent recurrence.
As another version has been sent that does not contain all email addresses, I would ask that you please delete the first email and any copies that you may have received.
If you wish to make a formal complaint regarding the issuing of your details please contact the customer care centre at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Tel: 01904 55 1550 8:30 - 17:30, Monday – Friday and someone will be happy to help you.
It has also led to many of those who were fined contacting each other, Minster FM has been told many of those on the mass e-mail are now discussing how they can work together to get a refund from the council.
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