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London borough defeats challenge to decision to increase parking charges

A High Court judge has rejected a judicial review challenge to decisions by the London Borough of Camden to increase or change parking charges.

The proceedings in Chaumeton v The London Borough of Camden [2015] EWHC 1010 (Admin) were brought by Richard Chaumeton, a building contractor and founder director of a group named the London Motorist Action Group.

The claimant argued that the intended purpose of the increases and changes in parking charges – introduced through traffic management orders made on 20 March 2012 – was to help the council raise additional revenue, for various purposes.

It was accepted that, if true, this would have been an illegitimate purpose.

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However, Mr Justice Knowles rejected the claims. In relation to the central issue the judge said:

  • There was no evidence that this was LBC's purpose.
  • The claimant had pointed to the additional revenue raised or projected to be raised from the increases and changes. However it did not follow from the fact that additional revenue was raised or projected to be raised that that was the purpose of the increases and changes.
  • There was evidence “that LBC's purpose was not to raise revenue but was to address the problems that come with private vehicle traffic”.
  • The claimant had advanced the proposition that ‘any local authority paid for parking scheme must be directed to be revenue neutral’. “This is, with respect, a mistaken proposition. The requirement that an authority not use parking charges for the purpose of raising additional revenue does not mean that the objective must be revenue neutrality. Indeed, addressing the problems that come with private vehicle traffic may mean a parking scheme that is far from revenue neutral. This is also why the mere fact of ‘budgeting for a surplus’ or of recognition of ‘the likelihood of a surplus’ is not ‘evidence of an improper purpose’ or ‘determinative of the legitimacy’ of parking orders (see R (Djanogly) v Westminster City Council) [2011] RTR 9 at [14] per Pitchford LJ in the Divisional Court; and note also that the present case is not a case where the local authority's purpose was as in R (Atfield) v Barnet LBC [2013] EWHC 2089 (Admin).)”
  • The claimant had contended that references in a report from the Director of Finance about seeking to make additional ‘savings’ beyond its savings programme, supported his case on Camden's purpose. “Read in the context of a report that was addressing LBC's whole financial position, and taken with an Appendix E which contained the express qualification in the context of parking services…., in my judgment they do not.”

Mr Justice Knowles criticised an allegation by the claimant that, since the decision in Cran v Camden London Borough Council [1995] RTR 346, LBC ‘have learned to dress up’ intended income increases as ‘savings’ in their documents.

“This was an allegation that questioned LBC's good faith,” the judge said. “There is no evidence that that was how LBC was behaving, and without that evidence the allegation should not have been made.”

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