High Court ruling casts doubt on legality of fees

Objector to parking charges in Brighouse.
Objector to parking charges in Brighouse.

Claims have been made that Calderdale’s new parking charges could be illegal.

A Brighouse councillor says that a landmark case against a London council that illegally hiked its parking charges to support other services has cast doubt on Calderdale Council’s plans to introduce a raft of new parking charges.

The council is introducing parking charges at three free car parks in Brighouse, Bank Street, Mill Lane and Church Lane in autumn this year.

Councillor Scott Benton (Con) says this claim has been made following a High Court judgement last week that ruled Barnet Council, had wrongly hiked the cost of resident parking permits to raise revenue rather than to relieve or prevent congestion, as the law stimpulates.

Reports of the judgement say that the council intended to use the additional income to meet projected expenditure for road maintenance and improvements, concessionary fares and other road transport costs.

But Mrs Justice Lang declared at London’s High Court that the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act ‘is not a fiscal measure and does not authorise the authority to use its powers to charge local residents for parking in order to raise surplus for other transport purposes’.

Councillor Benton says because the High Court ruling on the legislation applies to all councils for all types of parking, Calderdale Council, which commissioned a ‘Parking Income Generation Study’ last year, would appear to be in breach of the regulations.

According to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, councils are allowed to set fees for permits and other car parking charges only “for the purpose of relieving or preventing congestion of traffic”. The law does not allow a public body to use parking charges as a revenue-raising measure he adds.

The parking study was approved in August 2012 which included eight additional new charges for parking across the borough, many of which have yet to take effect.

Councillor Benton said: “The document which outlined the increased charges clearly started that the intention behind the new policy was ‘to generate additional revenue from parking’ - an aim that is contrary to legislation. The Council’s own figures suggest that they are hoping to raise £841,000 per year through these charges which leaves them with an annual income, or profit, or £655,000 after costs.”

He added: “The Council is using hard-pressed motorists as a source of extra revenue.

“This is clearly against the law and I am calling for the Council to reverse the introduction of these charges with immediate effect. The Conservatives vigorously opposed these charges when they were proposed last year as we believed that they would reduce footfall on the high street and harm local businesses.

“These proposals are not only bad for the local economy but are also contrary to UK law and the council must act immediately to correct the situation.”