Parking campaigner goes to court

A campaigner who has ploughed more than £100,000 of his own money into a legal battle against local authorities who issue "unlawful" parking fines is to present his case at the High Court.

Neil Herron, who took up the legal fight in 2005, wants to improve the status of motorists who are treated like "second-class citizens" and combat authorities using parking fines to "fill council black holes". Mr Herron says a successful case could help hundreds of drivers contest penalty charge notices, while the legitimacy of thousands of parking tickets issued across the country could be challenged.

Outside the court, Mr Herron, who insisted his battle was for "fair enforcement", said: "Councils have been using parking as a stealth tax - the more tickets they issue, the more money they get.

"We are not opposed to parking enforcement but if councils do not comply with the law, then anything they do to fine motorists is unlawful."

He argues that some councils have been operating outside the remit of the law while others take a "reckless approach" or fine motorists for being "an inch over the line" or "one minute late back to the meter".

"We have petty little bureaucrats and officials who have seen an opportunity to impose a stealth tax on motorists and fill council black holes," he said. "Some of the local authorities have not complied with the law and now they are crying crocodile tears because someone has objected."

Sunderland-based Mr Herron launched his legal fight after he was left frustrated by his local council's parking rules.

The council, he said, should not have been dishing out fines within a controlled parking zone (CPZ) because it had never applied for the zone to come into effect.

Consequently, all tickets issued within its boundaries were illegitimate, he maintains.

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