Parking campaigner wins right to appeal over fines

Neil Herron

Neil Herron

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A PARKING campaigner has struck back in a long-running battle over alleged “unlawful” fines.

Neil Herron lost a test case in the High Court last year, when he claimed a controlled parking zone in Sunderland city centre was set up without the necessary approval, and penalty charges issued were therefore unenforceable.

But the city businessman has now won his bid to be able to appeal against that ruling, giving him another chance of forcing a judicial review into the issue.

The case in court revolves around enforcement at Frederick Street, in Sunniside.

As revealed in the Echo this month, it has been the busiest street in Sunderland for parking tickets over the last two years, with 1,015 issued, racking up £22,405 in fines.

The eventual outcome of the test case has been labelled as a “watershed moment” for motorists and car parking in the UK, by industry experts.

Lord Justice Rix granted Mr Herron’s application after a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, in London.

Afterwards, Mr Herron’s solicitor Franklin Price said: “The judge could see Neil’s arguments and thought they were sufficient to merit a hearing before the full Court of Appeal, and that it was also a matter of some public importance.”

Mr Herron said: “I feel vindicated now that permission has been granted, and it’s about time we had a full independent investigation into Sunderland Council’s parking enforcement regime.”

Mr Herron – who will be allowed enter new evidence when the case next appears in court – claimed little progress has been made since he had meetings with officers about concerns in 2005.

Ron Odunaiya, executive director for city services at Sunderland Council, said: “The High Court had previously confirmed that Sunderland’s Controlled Parking Zone was lawful, and that Mr Herron’s application for judicial review was ‘entirely based on technicality and utterly devoid of merit’.

“We have always believed Sunderland’s parking rules to be firm but fair.

“Controlled parking is about road safety, reducing congestion in the interests of all highways users, and supporting economic activity and viability across Sunderland.

“We are awaiting a date for the hearing of the appeal, at which the city council will be represented.”