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Daily wins 16-month fight to reveal council parking fines scandal

A regional daily has won a 16-month fight to reveal that 14 local politicians had more 50 parking fines cancelled by “back door” routes.

The Liverpool Echo has exposed the serving and former Labour politicians who together had a total of 51 Penalty Charge Notices for parking rescinded by Liverpool City Council officers over a five-year period without using formal processes.

Echo political editor Liam Thorp began investigating the issue in October 2021, initially submitting Freedom of Information requests for the names of all elected members who had tickets rescinded between 1 April 2015 and 31 December 2020, the dates and locations involved and any reasons given for why the fines were thrown out.

However, the probe was delayed by “legal issues” and Liam has only now been able to name those involved.

How the Echo covered the issue on its front page

How the Echo covered the issue on its front page

Liam found the vast majority of the 51 tickets were overturned on the “discretion” of council officers, while one was written off after a time delay.

All of those named have provided the Echo with full responses and explanations for why they say they had their parking tickets rescinded.

Speaking to HTFP, Liam said: “It has been a long and tortuous process trying to get this information released. I am aware that there has been legal involvement that has delayed the release of the information.

“A recent Labour email that was sent to councillors involved said the party’s lawyers had been in ‘constant dialogue’ with the council over the matter.

“I wasn’t naive enough to expect a response on something like this within the guidance of 20 days, but 16 months does feel a little ridiculous.

“I’m glad the information is out there now and we were able to get the full story out there. The councillors involved have all been given a chance to provide a full explanation and people can make their own minds up.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “These are historical issues that have already been fully investigated by the council under its code of conduct. It’s also important to remember that no councillors were found to have breached the code given they were simply adhering to what they were told was standard practice.

“This whole situation reflects a period in the council several years back when its corporate behaviours were not what they should have been, and it bears stating that this is not current practice.”

In a statement responding to the Echo’s investigation, Liverpool City Council added: “Liverpool City Council has released information about parking penalty notices issued to elected members that were cancelled between 2015 and 2020. The disclosure follows a Freedom of Information request.

“It has taken a considerable amount of time and effort to pull together the response due to gaps in records.

“Further work is ongoing to ensure that we are fully transparent and ensure that all documents that can be made public are disclosed.

“It is crucial to the council’s improvement that transparency is embedded in our culture and practice.”