What would Rumpole of the Bailey make of Chester West and Chester Council’s car parking problem?
I used to give long speeches in court.
Were I as litigious as I used to be I wouldn’t be trying to persuade Chester West and Chester Council to do the right thing as you can see from the blog posts linked below. Here’s a draft of the speech I would make though if I that hypothetical situation happened.
Sir/Madam*(delete as applicable), it is obvious from the traffic regulation order starting on page xx of your pack (please refer to Part IV, section 33 of that order) that vehicles displaying a blue badge (or Disabled Person’s Badge as it is referred to in this traffic regulation order) at this car park (and many others in the Chester area run by Chester West and Chester Council) were entitled to 4 hours free parking.
That is the correct legal position.
Over the summer of 2015, Chester West and Chester Council, without paying due regard to The Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Exemptions for Disabled Persons) (England) Regulations 2000, advertised a variation to this traffic regulation order.
The effect of that variation was to remove the four hours free parking for disabled persons, but those with a Chester West and Chester blue badge could apply for a microchip to continue free parking as before.
This variation to the traffic regulation order was therefore not lawful as the legislation requires Chester West and Chester to treat all blue badge users equally. It cannot discriminate in favour of its own residents.
As a result of this tangled web of poor corporate governance, my wife, a blue badge user when visiting Chester on Saturday 19th December 2015 was denied the opportunity to park in this car park.
Chester West and Chester Council could’ve quite easily raised the barrier and let her park for four hours, but it chose not to.
Instead one of its employees decided not to act with common sense but instead like a bureaucratic jobsworth.
She has clearly faced discrimination because of her disability.
I have raised this with the Leader of Chester West and Chester Council, her MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People, the Cabinet Member for Legal and Finance and the Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Wellbeing.
You can see the long response received from Cllr Samantha Dixon (Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council) dated 4th January 2016 starting at page xx in your pack. Sadly, whereas her apology is appreciated, her response does not address the issue but merely restates Chester West and Chester Council’s position.
This prompted a further response also dated 4th January 2016, which was forwarded to Chester West and Chester Council’s Monitoring Officer Vanessa Whiting (a solicitor).
You can see Vanessa Whiting’s response at page xx.
The average person, turned away from one of Chester West and Chester’s car parks will neither have the patience, or understanding of local government to hold Chester West and Chester Council to account and wade like treacle through the murky depths of their apparent lack of understanding of the legal framework within which they are supposed to operate.
My wife of course does not wish to cause a fuss, but it is the principle of the matter that should be of concern to us all.
The state has when exercising its powers to act lawfully. Clearly these barriers prevent blue badge users from parking in these car parks and displaying their blue badges.
Clearly if you decide that the variation to the traffic regulation order was unlawful, then the barriers to the car park were unlawful too.
It is doubly perplexing that as Chester West and Chester Council has the ability to check the validity of any blue badge, that it chooses to make an exception only in favour of blue badges issued to its own residents.
The evidence is there before you in the pack, it is clear what happened and there is no dispute over the facts of what happened between the two parties in this case.
Ultimately what is needed is someone impartial and independent to adjudicate on this case and make a binding decision on both parties.
I realise this is the County Court and you may quite reasonably point out that only the Administrative Court has the power to quash the variation to the Traffic Regulation Order.
However if a finding of discrimination is made, then without Chester West and Chester Council changing the car parks, the situation will repeat again.
Clearly Chester West and Chester Council invested £650,000 in this parking system and it is shocking that the legal implications were not fully thought through before this large sum of public money was frittered away.
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