Halifax parking blunder: All you need to know about claiming a refund...and more

Picture shows on-street parking machines in Halifax that have been suspended after the council admitted every ticket handed out since 2008 has been ILLEGAL.  Picture Ross Parry
Picture shows on-street parking machines in Halifax that have been suspended after the council admitted every ticket handed out since 2008 has been ILLEGAL. Picture Ross Parry

Calderdale Council has issued the following statement and guide with question and answers the public may have over the parking situation in Halifax town centre and other parts of the district following the legal blunder on traffic orders.

1. What is a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO)?

This is a legal document which allows the Council to manage traffic and parking.

2. What has happened?

The Council lost an appeal against a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) issued in Skircoat. As the Council has also introduced a number of changes to parking in Halifax town centre recently it decided to have an independent legal review of the town centre TRO. This work has identified a number of errors in the TROs for Skircoat and Halifax town centre.

3. How has this happened?

TROs covering traffic management are large and complex legal documents. They must be accurate and free of any ambiguity to be legally enforceable. Unfortunately there have been a number of drafting errors found in the TROs that we have looked at so far. This is down to human error. A number of mistakes have been identified which should have been, but were not, picked up in the checking process.

4. When did you find out that there was a problem with the TROs?

We received the independent legal advice on 10 September 2014. We then carried out work to identify what we could and couldn’t enforce legally. This work was completed on 22 September. We withdrew enforcement and stopped issuing PCNs in the affected areas on 23 September.

5. Why did you continue to charge?

We needed to have a managed solution, which we have been working hard to put in place.

6. What are you doing to sort out the problem?

So that they can no longer take payments we are switching off our parking meters in Skircoat and some in the town centre, mainly in the shopping area. This work should have been completed yesterday. We are asking all motorists who have received PCNs in these areas to submit an application for a refund. Motorists who have an original parking ticket (pay and display ticket) can also request a refund. We will be contacting all residents in Skircoat who have resident or visitor permits.

We are drafting a new TRO for Halifax town centre and Skircoat. We are going to carry out a thorough review of all of our TROs to check that they are correct. Once we have carried out the review work we will identify new TROs that are required if further mistakes are found.

7. Which areas are affected?

To date, we know that Halifax town centre and Skircoat are affected.

8. Does this mean that I can park anywhere?

No, not all of the parking restrictions are affected. You cannot park here:

• Bus stops

• Taxi ranks

• Double-yellow lines

• Some loading bays

• Some disabled bays

9. When were the errors made?

We have found a number of errors in our TROs, some of which date back to 2008 when a change in legislation meant that we issued the new TROs.

10. Are any of the Council car parks affected?

No. We have checked all the legal orders for our car parks and they are all ok and enforceable.

11. How do we make sure that this doesn’t happen again?

We will be carrying out a full review to understand how these mistakes have been made. We will then be putting in place a new procedure to ensure that we don’t make mistakes in the future.

However, our focus at the moment is to address the problems that have been found and to check our other TROs. The review will be carried out when this work has been finished.

Refunds

12. Can I claim my money back if I have paid a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)?

You may be eligible for a refund if your PCN was issued in one of the affected streets. For PCNs in the Skircoat area since 18 November 2013. For PCNs in Halifax town centre since 31 March 2008.

13. What information will I need to provide to make a claim?

You will need to provide your name and address along with your vehicle registration number (VRM) and PCN number. If you do not have your PCN number, you will need to provide evidence such as a receipt, a bank or credit

card statement or other evidence to show that you were the owner of the vehicle or paid the PCN.

You will need to send the other evidence, ensuring that you put your vehicle registration number as a reference, to Calderdale Council, PO Box 51, HX1 1TP.

14. Can I claim my money back if I bought a pay and display ticket on one of the affected streets?

You may be able to claim a refund if you provide us with a valid original pay and display ticket. Photocopies are not acceptable.

15. How can I do this?

You will need to take your original ticket(s) to Halifax Customer First, who may be able to refund you up to a maximum of £25 in cash. For higher amounts, we will take your details and issue you with a cheque.

16. Can I claim my money back if I have bought a resident or visitor permit for one of the affected streets?

We will be writing to all residents who have a resident or visitor permit in Skircoat within the next 28 days advising them of what action the Council will take. There are no resident permit zones affected by these errors in Halifax town centre.

17. I have a Council contract permit which allows me to park in on street bays. Am I entitled to a refund? If so how can I get this?

If you have a general Council contract permit (permit prefix CP) you will not be eligible for a refund. You can continue to park in the long stay car parks and on street parking bays throughout Calderdale. If you have a contract permit for Skircoat only (permit prefix SK), you are entitled to a refund. The Council will write to you within 28 days advising you of what action we will take.

18. I have paid for suspended parking bays in Halifax town centre or Skircoat, can I make an application for a refund?

Yes but only if you paid for suspended bays in the affected areas. Please telephone our Contact Centre for information on 01422 392171.

19. Why do I need to make an application for a refund if you have all of the details?

We need to cross reference your details with the data we hold on our system. You will understand that we need to verify all claims.

20. Is there a time limit for making an application for a refund?

Applications for refunds should be made by 31 March 2015, but we will consider applications after this date based on individual circumstances.

21. Do you have a record of everyone who has been issued with a PCN?

No. Our system has records of all PCNs issued. We will only have name and address details if someone has appealed against the PCN or it has got to the stage that we have had to apply to the DVLA for registered keeper details.

22. I don’t have my PCN number but can I still make an application?

Yes, if you give us your vehicle registration number but we will also need further evidence to show you paid the PCN or were the owner at the time.

23. If I have received several PCNs will I get them all refunded?

Yes, if they were all issued in the affected streets during the correct time period. For PCNs in the Skircoat area since 18 November 2013. For PCNs in Halifax town centre since 31 March 2008.

24. How will I get my money?

Any refund will be made by cheque within 90 days of your claim being verified.

25. I’m not the registered keeper of this vehicle, can I still get a refund?

If you paid the PCN you will be able to make an application for a refund. If your company or Hire Company paid the charge and then sought reimbursement from you, you will need to speak to them as they will need to

make an application.

26. What if I have changed my car since I paid the PCN?

You will need to provide details of the relevant vehicle for which you received the PCN along with the PCN numbers. If you do not have your PCN number, you will need to provide evidence such as a receipt, a bank or credit card statement or other evidence to show that you were the owner of the vehicle or paid the PCN. You will need to send the other evidence, ensuring that you put your vehicle registration number as a reference, to Calderdale Council, PO Box 51, HX1 1TP.

27. What if I have moved house since I paid the PCN?

You will need to provide us with both your current and the address where you lived when you received the PCN.

28. What if I have more than one car and have received PCNs on each one?

A separate refund application must be made for each PCN issued.

29. Why can’t you just put the money in my bank account or back on my debit or credit card?

We need to have a refund system which is easy to use and consistent.

30. How much will this cost the Council?

We are assessing this. Currently we estimate that it could be approximately £250,000 if all eligible drivers request a refund for their PCNs in Halifax town centre and Skircoat.

What about the rest of Calderdale?

31. Have you checked all of the TROs in Calderdale for errors?

We are currently checking all of our TROs which relate to parking restrictions to make sure they are correct. As these orders are complex this will take several months.

32. What happens if we find more mistakes?

New TROs will be written to correct those mistakes. We do not have definite timescales at the moment. If appropriate, further refunds will be made.

33. Where is the money coming from to fund this?

In line with other authorities, the Council has an amount of money set aside to be used for unexpected events.

34. What will you do with the income you have received that is not claimed?

We use the income received from parking charges to cover the cost of running the parking service. Any surplus money is used to carry out repairs to our car parks, roads and other highway assets, such as lighting and walls.