PAY AND DISMAY: Lambeth Council issues millions of pounds of unfair tickets each year

ParkingEXCLUSIVE: By Kaye Wiggins and Zoe Jewell

Motoring fines worth millions of pounds are wrongly issued to drivers in Lambeth every year, the Brixton Blog can reveal.

FPARKING WARDENS BRIXTONigures from Lambeth council show it has been forced to cancel tens of thousands of fines in each of the last three years after drivers appealed against them.

The cancelled fines – issued for breaking parking rules and for driving in bus lanes – add up to millions of pounds every year.

The news comes as the BBC reported that enforcement officers in Camden and Ealing have claimed they are giving out “dodgy” parking tickets to fulfil quotas set by councils. Like Camden and Ealing, Lambeth also has a contract for parking enforcement with NSL, the UK’s biggest parking contractor.

The Parking Management Act prohibits councils from setting targets for the number of tickets they issue. However, Lambeth council’s contract with NSL sets out expected issue rates at 218,000 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) a year.

Phillip Brown’s ticket was issued on New Years’ Eve last year. “We contested a fine we received after parking in Bernay’s Grove in one of the pay and display bays. I put the ticket on the dashboard and when I got back to the car I’d got a ticket because the ticket was the wrong way up.” The fine was waivered when he contested it online.

hugh frances courtney parking pictureAnother Brixton visitor who was wrongly issued with an £80 parking fine this year told the Bugle he had parked on a residential street and put a pay and display ticket on the dashboard.

“We were baffled to find a parking fine when we came back,” he said. “So we challenged it. When we did that, the council showed us pictures of our vehicle – and the pictures proved there had been a valid ticket on show!” He added that the council had since cancelled the charge and issued an apology.

Data released to the Bugle under the Freedom of Information Act shows that in 2012 the council cancelled 43,723 of the 195,705 penalty charge notices that it issued – or 22%. The number was even higher in the two previous years: in 2011 it cancelled 24% of all fines and in 2010 it cancelled 26%. So far this year the number has fallen: 12% of all fines issued between January and August have been cancelled.

parking warden recA spokesman for Lambeth council was keen to highlight this reduction, saying in a statement: “These figures show both the number of penalty charge challenges and the number of cancelled penalty charge notices are falling in Lambeth.”

He added: “Anyone who believes that the penalty charge notice they have received is unfair should challenge it.”

Lambeth’s penalty charge notices range from £60 fines to £130 fines, meaning that even if all the 2012 fines were at the lowest rate, the council wrote off more than £2.6m in invalid fines.

The data also shows that about half of all appeals against the motoring fines were successful in the past three years.

Another resident, chef Katayun Sethna, has been issued three parking tickets for her Vespa scooter and successfully contested each of them. On one occasion, she was given a ticket while parked outside her flat despite having a permit. Another time, she was told by the warden that she wouldn’t be issued a ticket after the council did not send the usual reminder to renew her residents’ permit. Katayun wrote to the Bugle, “a month later I got a letter warning that I had ignored a PCN and was due for either a massive fine or court action. This is the PCN that the guy never issued me!”

Cllr Imogen Walker, cabinet member for environment and sustainability, said: “In Lambeth we have a very well-run parking department that helps keeps our roads clear and is effective at encouraging drivers to park legally.

“We take every appeal seriously, and the falling number of successful appealsdemonstrates our commitment to fairness in this important area.”

A spokesman for the council also denied that it set targets for issuing parking fines. He added: “Our contractors have been given guidance that they can expect issue between 205,000 and 207,000 tickets a year. This is not a target – it’s a figure issued so the contractor can forward plan the number of staff they will need.

“All Lambeth council contracts are focused on quality and not quantity.”

To share your parking stories email us at or tweet us at @BrixtonBlog.



  1. I received a pcn for driving in a bus lane looking for the entrance to the O2 Flertwood Mac conference on 24th June. I temporarily lost the notice whilst carrying it around in my diary and called London Transport to find out which council would have issued the fine and attempt to pay. I called every day for 2 weeks – for which I now have phone records. Each time they told me the fine was firstly not showing on their system yet, and not to worry, the payment time countdown wouldn’t start until they did, and also to try Greenwich Council to see if they had a record of it.
    As you can guess, I then got an additional fine from Lambeth for supposedly ignoring the first!
    I send a detailed explanation plus a cheque for the original £60 fine. I called Transport for London for advice again and they sold me to send phone records also.
    Today I received another additional fine from Lambeth who obviously haven’t received any of my previous correspondance or payment!!

  2. I have received 5!!! PCN’s from Lambeth because my parking permit was out of date and i was on holiday when it expired so i didn’t know about these tickets or the out of date permit. Actually 2 of the tickets i knew nothing about until i received a letter saying that the penalty charge has not been paid. They were not on my windscreen! and also asking for £80 a ticket instead of the £40 it would be if the challenge wasn’t met or paid before 28 days, had i knew about the tickets of course.
    The reason my permit wasn’t renewed as i didn’t know it was about to expire, i don’t drive every day and also for the past 7 years Lambeth have always sent out a reminder letter to renew, which i did not receive on this occasion. They seem to have changed their system whereby they say the will email or text a reminder, didn’t receive these either. Seems a scam to me!
    So i have challenged the 3 tickets that i knew about, still waiting to hear back but what to do about the 2 that were not on my windscreen, has that happened to anyone else?
    Also has anyone else been caught out by Lambeth, by not sending out a permit renewal letter, text or email?
    Any advice much appreciated.

  3. Last month Lambeth decided not to send me a permit renewal reminder. It’s a very useful service, especially for infrequent drivers like myself, and maybe can be a bit better by ditching the usual post and sending e-mails instead. But unfortunately they neither sent me a letter nor an e-mail. And when one day I decided to drive somewhere I realised I had three PCNs were neatly placed under my windscreen wipers. One of them was badly wet but it’d been raining that morning. I realised my permit expired 7 days ago but thought it was unfair that I’m penalised for trusting the Lambeth council’s renewal reminders so I challenged them. What happened? Just total bully.. They suggest I am responsible for my parking permit and should pay more attention and also apparently there’s a huge demand for parking permits in Lambeth so I should renew it as soon as possible. Little did they know, I already had and it was just a few clicks. Needles to say, the actual printed permits arrived a week later. I said permits because they sent two. What am i going to do? I think I’ll pay £120 for three tickets and go have a dump in front of the town hall maybe that way I can go to sleep without thinking about this. Thanks a lot Brixton Blog.

  4. I recieved a parking fine for £130 from these people for a parking offence i had not commited. it was a car with clond plates. i live in Cornwall and have never been to Lambeth. I supplies all the information that they should need to see that I had not commited the parking offence, including photographic evidence and discription showing that the car they ticketed was not my car, the police log no relating to the cloned plates which i had reported due to several fines from Bournemouth that were resolved with no problems. A week ago i recieved another letter stating that as i had not paid my fine it was now £195.
    I contacted them by phone only to be told that they had no record of my original email (even though it was sent through their site) and asked to resubmit my appeal. By this point there had been a development in the case and the stolen car with the cloned plates had been recovered. So I also provided the officer’s name, phone no’ and crime number relating to the recovery of the stolen car with the clones of my plates only to be told that as i had not supplied a copy of my log book and that i was still liable for the fine but as a gesture of good will they had reduced the fine to the original £65. But that i no longer have any right of appeal as it is now outside the time limit. Firstly i can see no reason to supply a copy of my logbook as i was never disputing that my car has the same reg no as the car they ticketed and secondly as i supplies my email address, phone numbers and home address why didnt they simply contact me and ask for it if it was so important, (email is free)?
    I shall not be paying this fine but rather i will send a letter stating so and outlining why i am refusing to pay and sugesting that if they really want to waste the money payed in taxes by Lambeth residents they are welcome to do so, but i shall be seeking reinbusement for any costs incurred and compensation for stress caused when they lose the case.

  5. So glad you highlighted the blatant money-raising scam that is Lambeth parking.

    Residents in Josephine Avenue, part of the Brixton Hill Q CPZ, were one of the early casualties.

    Our ‘consultation’ questionnaire was worded to obtain the maximum hours possible asking only what time the road got busy in the morning and what time the cars went away in the evening?

    It had nothing to do with stopping commuter parking (a one hour ban during the day would have prevented this) but was designed to create maximum revenue for the Town Hall.

    We were promised a revue after six months, but this never happened. Instead residents now have the very real inconvenience of friends and trades people unable to visit.

    Lambeth created this problem, they should sort it out, as promised.

  6. These aren’t mistakes made by Lambeth Council – they are what it exists for.

    Local government views people not as citizens or customers, but as prey.

    We exist only to be taxed, in as many and ingeniously varied ways as councillors and officials can dream up. Local government screams about cuts, but doesn’t try to achieve better outcomes with fewer resources, i.e. improve productivity, something that private companies continuously do.

    Local government is effectively a compulsory state-enforced monopolistic protection racket – we don’t have a choice of providers for the various activities it carries out. So without any competition, why should Councils bother to harder ? If you’re unsatisfied with Lambeth services, you can’t withdraw your custom as you would with a normal business that was underperforming. Try that and you will be jailed.

    • @Ubanspaceman ” If you’re unsatisfied with Lambeth services, you can’t withdraw your custom as you would with a normal business that was underperforming”
      – not true. you can move to another borough.

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