The AA has been warning authorities of councils increasing parking charges, the head of public affairs said today, after campaigners won a landmark High Court victory against Barnet council.
Paul Watters said: "Some authorities have been saying they cannot fix the potholes or clear ice from the roads unless CPZs are extended and prices increased.
"This is in effect holding residents and drivers to ransom. That is totally unacceptable.
"This case must be a warning to other local authorities that try to profit from ramped up charges, unnecessary extended controlled zones, use CCTV for mass ticketing or argue the case for increased levels of penalty when there is already sufficient deterrent.
"Of course, we need to secure adequate funding for council services, but this is not the way."
Barnet council leader, Richard Cornelius has conceded that an increase in parking charges had been carried out "too abruptly and rather charmlessly", but said there would be an appeal.
Mr Cornelius said:
Both our pricing and spending are very much in line with other London boroughs and I very much believe that our spending of the income from our parking account on items such as road maintenance and transport services is entirely within the scope of the special parking account under the Road Traffic Act.
With that in mind I don't think we have any alternative but to look to appeal this decision.
That said it is fairly clear that the council raised the price of parking permits, after five years of a price freeze, too abruptly and rather charmlessly. I will make sure that doesn't happen again.
Campaigners objecting increased parking charges said that the increases had made parking in Barnet's quiet residential streets "more expensive than parking outside Harrods" after their victory in the High Court today.
Mr Attfield said after: "Barnet Council has been caught picking the pockets of CPZ residents.
"Despite making up less than 10% of the borough, they were being made to contribute disproportionately to a range of services such as road repairs and the provision of bus passes across the borough.
"Today's judgment confirms what I have maintained all along: that Parliament never intended local authorities to take a large cut every time a book club meets, mums get together for coffee or a washing machine is repaired.
"It is regrettable that Barnet has spent over two years, and tens of thousands of pounds, standing by their charges which they should have known were legally and morally wrong."
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, has said today's ruling quashing parking charge increases in Barnet was "fantastic news for drivers".
Mr Glaister said:
The law is explicit - parking charges are about managing congestion, not raising revenue. If there is a surplus collected, then there are strict rules on what it can be used for.
The question is: why did Barnet ever think it had an arguable case to pick on one group of residents to shoulder an additional tax?
Parking campaigners from the London borough of Barnet have won the quashing of the local council's decision to dramatically increase parking charges in April 2011.
The judge rejected arguments put forward by Barnet council lawyers that it had powers under section 45 of the 1984 Act to raise a surplus from parking charges for transport functions.
There were no parking charges in David Attfield's quiet residential road, who brought the lead case, until the controlled parking zone (CPZ) was first introduced in 2001 to prevent tube commuters parking in local streets.
- The cost of a permit for a first car was initially £20 and visitor vouchers cost 35p each.
- The charges were increased in 2006.
- In 2011 that they leapt for a first car from £40 to £100.
- Visitors' vouchers increased from £1 to £4 - among the highest CPZ charges in London.
Parking campaigners today won a landmark High Court victory against increased charges which has implications for the rest of the country.
A judge ruled Barnet council in north London acted unlawfully when it increased the cost of residents' parking permits and visitor vouchers in controlled parking zones (CPZs) to raise revenue.
The additional income was intended to meet projected expenditure for road maintenance and improvements, concessionary fares and other road transport costs.
The ruling was a victory for the Barnet CPZ Action group, made up of parents and residents from the borough, and David Attfield, who brought the lead case.
Police are searching for a 14 year old girl who's gone missing from Barnet.
14-year-old Anastasija Rakovskaja was last seen leaving school on Monday, but she did not return home that evening.
Detectives say she has gone missing before but never for this long so they are concerned for her welfare.
Police are appealing for information to help identify suspects following a robbery in Barnet. Police were called on Friday morning to the Britannia Building Society on Station Road in Edgware after three men burst in and stole a quantity of cash.
Two of the suspects jumped over the counter before one of them pinned a member of staff against the wall. The second man grabbed the money while the third suspect stood by the front door.The men then fled in the direction of Rectory Lane.
Suspect 1 is described as black, approximately 17 years old, 5' 6" tall, of proportional build with broad shoulders and with close cut short black hair. He was wearing a navy coloured baseball cap, black sweatshirt, black tracksuit bottoms and black fabric gloves.
Suspect 2 is described as black, aged 17-20 years, 5' 6" tall and of proportional build. He was wearing a black hooded top and black tracksuit bottoms. It is believed the hood was up, and he was wearing some sort of face covering, either a ski mask, or scarf over his face.
Suspect 3 is described as black and was wearing black clothing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Flying Squad at Finchley on 020 8358 1752 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Barnet councillor Brian Coleman has been fined after admitting he did assault a woman in north London as she filmed him parking illegally.Read the full story ›
Barnet FC will play their final game at Underhill, their home of 106 years, today. A sell-out crowd is expected for the crucial match against Wycombe where the Bees need a win in their bid to avoid relegation.