There has been no open accountability as to what these funds have been used for, however, the main issue is that the City is has not been prepared to address concerns relating to the issuing of the fixed penalties, instead they hide behind the fact that many appeals are out of time, hence resorting to using Bailiff's to enforce tickets that should never had been issued.
Clearly, by launching this petition it places this matter on the agenda of the Local Elections, as the representations, have all fallen on deaf ears.
"Councillor Tahir Ali who has been at the forefront of this, should really resign his post as he has shown a complete lack of respect for the people of this city, as many of them caught up in this cash trap were actually taking their vulnerable children to Birmingham Children's Hospital and the signage in place was not clear, where is his accountability to the people of Birmingham. I have made representations on behalf of people who are being chased by Bailiffs which have fallen on deaf ears." says Desmond Jaddoo Community Activist.
"Dick Turpin would have been proud. In a private(behind closed doors) meeting the Council decided they could get away with not repaying these fines - so they won`t. We are not even allowed to know who was at the meeting. We think this is an immoral and blatant abuse of power." says Ben Cheney the Campaign Leader.
The Petition is available at Petitionbuzz.com and we need 20000 signatures in order to force this matter to be debated in public at a future full council meeting.
Petition Link http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/benbuslanefines
The Story so far
On Sept. 3rd 2013 ,ten new bus lanes were activated in Birmingham City and motorists caught in these lanes were issued with Penalty Charge Notices (fines) and were instructed how to pay or appeal or take their case to an independent Tribunal.
Ben Cheney was caught in such a bus lane on Sept.13th 2013 and took his case to Tribunal and presented photographic evidence to the adjudicator to show that the correct signage was not where it should have been and where signage was displayed it was confusing and inadequate and therefore motorists had no way of knowing they were entering a bus lane. Ben Cheney won his case and in the adjudicator’s report the following comments were made: - Firstly about Mr Cheney’s own case; that the signage was confusing and inadequate and PCN’s should not be enforced.
The Adjudicator, apart from listening to presentations, had also walked the new bus lanes and judged three of the ten to be inadequate and made the following more general comments a) the sheer numbers of fines(approx. 70,000) suggest it is unlikely to reflect the numbers of drivers who simply chose to ignore the restrictions for their own convenience and b) the Adjudicator accepted he could not direct the Council to cancel those PCN’s but was sure the Council would readily recognise that the rejection of recommendations from an independent Adjudicator is likely to reduce public confidence in the scheme. BUT THE COUNCIL HAVE IGNORED THE RECOMMENDATIONS.
From Oct. 2013 Ben started this Facebook campaign to get fines refunded and the local press and TV also questioned vigorously the adequacy of the signage. The Council refused to listen and insisted that the signage was legal and conformed and even stated that motorists were blatantly ignoring the signs and deserved to be fined. Sheer arrogance; were 70000 motorists all criminals. After the Tribunal a senior Council officer admitted they should have listened earlier.
Despite all this, and bearing in mind the Adjudicators comments the Council has refused to refund the over 70,000 PCN fines collected (Approx. £1.9M)and argued that motorists who had paid their fines had forfeited any further right of appeal (as per the process accompanying the PCN) and should have done as Ben had done and gone to Tribunal. This argument would have been valid had the Council provided clear and adequate signage BUT they did not and why should innocent motorists (who had no way of knowing they had entered a bus lane) have to pay for the Council’s mistake. The Council got it wrong so they should refund the fines.
The Council’s own Transport Scrutiny Committee, who are there to check and balance Council actions but have no power, spent considerable time at three public Scrutiny meetings asking the relevant Cabinet Member why he did not show fairness, morality and discretion and refund the fines. They were told by the Cabinet Member that there were legal reasons why refunds could not be made and the Scrutiny Committee asked for these reasons to be explained in public. Not unreasonable you might think as over 70,000 of the public had been wrongly fined.
27th April 2015 .