Fury as 14 Labour politicians get 51 parking tickets cancelled

Liverpool Labour politicians get 51 parking tickets cancelled with ‘breathtaking disregard for the rules’

  • 14 current and ex-politicians are blasted after getting parking tickets rescinded 
  • Councillors insist they did nothing wrong and they had been acting in good faith 
  • But rivals have blasted them for using ‘back door’ routes to get fines scrapped  

Fourteen Labour councillors have ignited outrage after having 51 parking tickets cancelled in a ‘breathtaking disregard for the rules’. 

Liverpool City Council has been blasted amid claims politicians used ‘back door’ routes to have parking tickets thrown out following the results of a damning probe. 

The data was uncovered following a Freedom of Information request by the Liverpool Echo newspaper, which revealed dozens of penalty charges notices had been challenged and scrapped by current and ex-Labour councillors between April 2015 and December 2020. 

Among those highlighted in the investigation included former mayor Joe Anderson, an ex-deputy mayor and the current chairman of the city’s powerful finance committee. 

The probe shows the vast majority of the 51 tickets were overturned based on the ‘discretion’ of council officers, while one was written off after a time delay. 

Top of the list of councillors with the most parking tickets rescinded was former deputy mayor Anne O’Byrne (above), who had 17 wiped out

Former mayor Joe Anderson had two parking tickets cancelled by officers, in a move rival politicians have blasted 

Labour insisted there was a ‘custom and practice’ in the council at the time where parking tickets issued against elected members in the course of their duties could be rescinded and that councillors operated on that basis in ‘good faith’.

But opponents have accused politicians of ‘swerving the system’ and ‘disregarding the rules and regulations they themselves put in place’.

Councillor Richard Kemp, Liverpool’s Liberal Democrat leader, said: ‘What we see in the behaviour of 14 Labour councillors in not paying 51 parking tickets is a breathtaking disregard for the rules and regulations that they themselves put in place.

‘In this they copy the arrogant behaviour of the Tories in Westminster with a similar sense of superiority and entitlement.

‘They used a back door route to swerve the system and got a council officer to get the ticket dropped.’

Top of the list of councillors with the most parking tickets rescinded was former deputy mayor Anne O’Byrne, who had 17 wiped out. 

Former cabinet members Barry Kushner and Nick Small saw seven and four tickets thrown out respectively. Ex-lord mayor Malcolm Kennedy also had four tickets rescinded.

Former mayor Joe Anderson had two parking tickets cancelled by officers in that same period while long-serving Labour councillor Gerard Woodhouse had five tickets rescinded. All have denied wrongdoing.

Former councillor Malcolm Kennedy had four tickets axed. He said he couldn’t remember the exact circumstances but claimed he did have permissions to park in council-run car parks

The result of the 16-month investigation will come as a blow to Liverpool City Council, which is being partially overseen by government commissioners after a critical inspection report following the arrest of then-mayor Mr Anderson, in December 2020 as part of a Merseyside Police fraud investigation. 

The criminal investigation against Mr Anderson, who was mayor of Liverpool between 2012 and 2021, has since been dropped and he no longer faces prosecution.  

News of the parking ticket scandal has prompted calls for senior council leaders to investigate the situation. 

Interim chief executive Theresa Grant, who took over after Tony Reeves stepped down last year, said the revelation highlighted ‘previous poor practice, relating to past processes and scrutiny of the way the council used to be run.

‘It is, sadly, an example of the unacceptable culture that pervaded parts of the council in the past, as documented in the ‘best value’ inspection report,’ she said.

‘I want to be clear that what happened historically is no reflection of the council’s current parking services staff nor management team.

‘It is important to remember that much has changed at Liverpool City Council and we are now a more mature organisation, one that is open and transparent about decision-making.’

Cllr Barry Kushner, the current chairman of the council’s finance committee, had seven tickets axed between 2015 and 2020

Current mayor Joanne Anderson said an internal audit of parking services will pick up issues arising from the disclosure.

She said: ‘The cabinet and I have been working hard since my election as mayor in May 2021 to change the culture of the council to one that is fully focused on delivering best value for its residents.

‘We cannot change what happened in the past but it is vital that we learn from it and make sure we are as transparent as possible when it comes to decision-making, with the correct governance and audit procedures in place.’

But the mayor was criticised by city Lib Dem boss Cllr Kemp over how long it took for the council to release the information. 

He said: ‘The fact that it has taken the council 16 months to respond to a Freedom of Information request from the Echo blows a huge hole in the claims from the current Mayor of Liverpool that she would introduce a regime and culture into the council of openness, honesty, and transparency.’

Lead commissioner Mike Cunningham said: ‘The information released today shines a light on the poor practices that have been all too common in Liverpool City Council.

Cllr Gerard Woodhouse had five tickets axed on appeal and has denied any wrongdoing 

‘However, it is information that the public have a right to know and, although it has taken too long for this information to be shared, we welcome the transparent approach the council is now taking to publishing it.’

Commissioners were appointed to oversee parts of the local authority in 2021 after the inspection report found allegations of bullying and intimidation.

Last August, it was announced that government intervention would be expanded to include governance and financial decision-making following another critical report.

Among the other politicians named in today’s parking ticket probe include two former Labour councillors who left the party last year to join the Liverpool Community Independents group.

Cllr Anna Rothery had one ticket rescinded while Cllr Joanne Calvert had three quashed. Both have provided explanations and denied any wrongdoing.

Joann Kushner saw three tickets quashed, while current Labour councillors Wendy Simon, Sharon Connor, Lynnie Hinnigan, Joe Hanson and former councillor James Noakes are all listed as having one ticket axed. Again all have denied wrongdoing.

But Lib Dem councill boss Cllr Kemp has called on the Labour Party to remove those serving politician from the organisation ahead of the next round of local elections.  

Councillor Nick Small he had four tickets quashed out of the 51 uncovered during the investigation 

‘It is now up to the Labour Party to decide whether they have any moral scruples,’ he added. ‘To my mind anyone who tries to get round regulations is not a fit person to stand for the council.’

In Liverpool, those who receive a parking fine are charged either £70 or £50 depending on the offence and must pay the fine within 28 days of the Penalty Charge Notice being issued.

The fine is reduced by 50 per cent for those who pay within 14 days. People seeking to challenge the penalty charge must do so within 28 days of receiving the fine.  

However, a number of councillors highlighted in today’s report have placed the blame at the door of former senior council officer Andy Barr, the council’s assistant director of highways and planning before he resigned in 2021.

Some of the politicians have explicitly claimed they were acting on orders from Mr Barr when their tickets were rescinded – an accusation he flatly denied, instead claiming councillors were fully aware of the proper appeals process. 

‘The elected members insisted that the tickets were cancelled by me, making it clear what the consequences would be if I refused. To state that they thought this was the agreed process is quite frankly insulting, given the impact that this has had to both my professional and private life,’ he said. 

Councilors embroiled in Liverpool’s parking ticket scandal respond to the damning probe’s findings

Cllr Ann O’Byrne 

The former deputy mayor had 17 tickets, issued between September 23,  2015 and September 19, 2017 rescinded. 

She says she was issued a pass by former senior council officer Andy Barr and followed instructions from him – something he categorically denies. 

‘I was told that all the senior management team and senior councillors received this pass which allowed them to park in the city so they could do their job effectively,’ she said.

Cllr Barry Kushner

The current chairman of the council’s finance committee had seven tickets axed between 2015 and 2020.   

He insisted he paid for parking but that fines had been issued after council meetings ‘overran’. 

He added: ”I have always paid any parking fines, as they related to my personal use. I wish to stress that if I had been expected to pay the resultant parking PCNs, I would have challenged that charge on the basis that a permit/ pass had been given by the council.’

Cllr Gerard Woodhouse

He had five parking fines scrapped while attending council meetings, which ran longer than the four hours allowed in his parking bay. He said he had informed council officials about the meetings which overran and added: ‘If I would have been told I had to pay them I would of done We were always told to hand them in to committee services which I did.’

Cllr Nick Small  

He had four tickets quashed. He claimed he had previously had a councillor off-street parking permit, which gave instructions on how and where it can be used. But he said he had been issued with a different operational vehicle permit which contained no written guidance on where it could be used. 

‘I did not ask for the operational vehicle permit and was never issued with any written guidance about it. I was told by an officer, then head of parking that I could use it when on council duties in on-street parking bays as well as in council off-street car parks,’ he said, adding he was only using the permit on council business. 

Malcolm Kennedy 

The former councillor had four tickets axed. He said he couldn’t remember the exact circumstances but that he did have permissions to park in council-run car parks, adding: ‘All I know for sure is that I was a cabinet member and for a time deputy lord mayor at the same time, so was pretty much on duty all the time. I do remember being issued with an operational pass at the time.’

Cllr Joanne Calvert

She had three tickets quashed. Saying she had ‘nothing to hide’, Cllr Calvert said she had contested the first fine as there was ‘no record’ of her payment on with the council. In her second appeal she said she had paid for a ticket.

Her third fine, the councillor claimed she had been using her councillors parking permit with a courtesy car following an accident. 

‘I displayed my permit along with a note explaining it was a courtesy car but still received fines even though I had put an explanation note as to why the car was not the one registered to me at Committee Services/ Parking,’ she said.  

Joann Kushner

Joann had three tickets axed. She said the council had opted to clear them because the ‘reasons for parking were valid and related to council business’. 

Joe Anderson

The ex-Liverpool mayor had two tickets quashed. He claimed on one occasion, a relative had borrowed his car and said they had parked in a residential parking street, where the vehicle had not been registered. 

On the second occasion, he claimed to have used his own car to attend a funeral and then a factory while on council business. He said a member of his staff and told parking services his personal vehicle was being used for official business but would not have been registered as except from ticketing.  

Cllr Wendy Simon 

The former deputy mayor had one ticket axed. She believed her operational parking permit to park in a loading bay when she was fined. She appealed the fine which she says was accepted by the council. 

Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan

She successfully appealed against a single fine.  She claimed the car park she was at, while on council business, had no facility to pay by card or notes. She claimed she told Andy Barr who said he would ‘look into it’. She then claimed to receive a ‘reminder’ about the fine before adding: ‘Had I appealed directly I believe due to faulty machine my appeal would have been upheld.’

Cllr Sharon Connor

The former cabinet member had one ticket rescinded. She claimed she had paid for a parking bay while attending a council meeting but had been fined due to the ‘visibility of the ticket’. She appealed the decision on the grounds of having proof of payment. She claimed she was advised to tell parking services about the issue and that she was ‘not aware’ this was not in accordance with council policy. ‘I believe, I have acted in good faith and put my trust in the advice given to me at the time,’ she added.  

Cllr Joe Hanson

He had one ticket revoked on appeal having asked for ‘guidance’ from a council officer and whether there was an ‘informal way’ to request a review from a higher authority. The officer told him he would seek to deal with Andy Barr, Cllr Hanson said, adding: ‘At no point did I believe I was doing anything wrong, as all I was doing was seeking guidance and advice from an assistant director.’

Cllr Anna Rothery

She received one ticket while at a council meeting. She claimed she had no money and was ‘concerned’ she would be late for the meeting. 

‘I have done nothing wrong,’ she said.  ‘I raised this with the appropriate officer and explained I was attending a {Liverpool City Council) meeting it would have cost the council more to postpone and reschedule the meeting.’ 

James Noakes

The former councillor had one fine revoked and said it was issued while he had been carrying out official council duties. 

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