Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Parking Fine Amnesty after New Year Fiasco; WESTMINSTER CAVES IN TO OUTRAGE AND CANCELS PUBLIC HOLIDAY PENALTIES

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Parking Fine Amnesty after New Year Fiasco; WESTMINSTER CAVES IN TO OUTRAGE AND CANCELS PUBLIC HOLIDAY PENALTIES

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID WILLIAMS;GARY DOUGLAS

THOUSANDS of parking tickets issued on New Year's Day, causing outrage among motorists, have been cancelled.

Westminster council agreed to the amnesty after coming under attack for issuing nearly 4,000 fines on Saturday.

Among those caught out were families watching the New Year's Day parade from Parliament Square to Piccadilly, and people taking part in the annual 10km fun run in Hyde Park.

Because most believed it was a public holiday they thought they were free to park at meters and on single yellow lines. But Westminster sent out teams of traffic wardens who issued 3,716 parking tickets resulting in fines of about [pounds sterling]180,000.

Clamped drivers faced an additional removal fee of [pounds sterling]65 and owners of cars towed away faced a [pounds sterling]150 charge.

Initially Westminster - whose roadside signs point out that parking restrictions are not enforced on public holidays - insisted Saturday was a "normal" day and motorists would have to pay. But today it said the "vast majority" of the penalties would be cancelled. "We admit there was a high level of confusion and we don't want to benefit from that," said a spokesman.

"While we acted to the letter of the law perhaps it was not in the spirit of the law."

Only those fines normally issued on a bank holiday - for parking in residents' bays or in dangerous locations such as street corners - will be upheld.

The council also promised a full refund to drivers who have paid fines or tow-away fees, and to those who can produce pay-and-display permits to show they paid to park after seeing other drivers ticketed.

The council said it would automatically cancel all unjust tickets, but those in doubt could use the call centre number on their ticket. "A lot of people contacted us to say it was outrageous and we have reacted," said the spokesman. …

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