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Two Westminster Council senior officers under police investigation for suspected fraud

February 17, 2010

Yesterday, we became aware of a complaint raised by the chairman of the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign, Warren Djanogly, to the Metropolitan Police that alleges offences under the Fraud Act and Gross Misconduct in Public Office against two Westminster Council senior officers regarding the authority by which NSL Services came to perform the circa £13 million annual parking enforcement contract in March 2007.

Westminster Council had their parking enforcement contract with a company called National Car Parks Limited (also known as NCP) until March 2007, when such company was sold and broken up into smaller companies. One of the companies that was created as a result is called NSL Services with which Westminster Council have had their parking enforcement contract until now. Under European Union law, all contracts worth more than £156,442 must be opened to tender to enable fair competition between businesses and must also be advertised in the EU’s official journal. Because Westminster Council’s parking enforcement contract was worth around £13 million, i.e. a lot more than the minimum threshold of £156,442, it had to be opened to tender, as a result of the United Kingdom being a full member state of the European Union.

Allegations made by the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign show that no tender process was undertaken to appoint another company (following the sale of NCP) to run Westminster’s parking enforcement activities and that the contract was directly offered to NSL Services, without allowing fair competition, as legally required by the European Union legislation.

This appears to be a very serious issue which is now under investigation by the Metropolitan Police, under crime number 6507270/10. It is believed that the reason why Westminster Council were reluctant to follow the European tendering rules was to avoid losing parking revenue while contracts were being tendered.

But Westminster Council may not be the only local authority involved in this potential fraud. About 30 councils across the United Kingdom currenty use or have used NSL Services to run their parking enforcement activities, so which council will be next to be suspected of a crime and be reported to the Metropolitan Police?

As we understand it, the matter was initially brought to the attention of the District Auditor, but because the suspected fraud took place during the financial year 2007/08, it is now too late for them to investigate it further. However, the District Auditor advised Warren Djanogly that any evidence of alleged fraud or misconduct must be handed to the police, which is exactly what has been done.

Westminster Tories refused to listen to thousands of motorcyclists who objected to their motorcycle parking tax and demanded full scrapping of the charge. As a result, the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign group started to investigate the way parking operations were run in Westminster and discovered the potential fraud described above. It is interesting to read Warren Djanogly’s explanation:-

“WCC’s [Westminster City Council’s] decision to become the first Council in Europe to introduce parking charges for motorcycles came with the assurance that it would be “Revenue-Neutral”, that is where revenue generated via its Pay-By-Phone contractor, Verrus UK merely covered implementation & enforcement costs. Disbelieving that a Council would spend-a-pound-to-make-a-pound, we investigated these “implementation” costs only to discover violations of EU procurement with regards to the awarding of that Pay-By-Phone contract. Notified that the EU Commissioners had been alerted by others, and encouraged that the OFT [Office of Fair Trading] would consider a dossier we prepared (http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/Demand-for-a-Public-Inquiry.pdf ), we switched our attention to the enforcement aspect, following Mr Herron’s lead, and were not surprised to find the same individuals within WCC involved in this scandal.

Our suspicions of foul play were raised when, not only did it take WCC over 6 weeks to produce a copy of a Deed of Novation claimed to have been signed in March 2008, but that this transfer of the 3rd largest contract award by WCC was supposedly sanctioned by the same officer as involved in the suspect contract awards without either any delegated power to do so by the Council Cabinet Member, or involvement by the WCC internal Legal Department. Regardless of my position as Chairman of a Campaign group against WCC, it was my civic duty to take the evidence collected to the proper authority”.

While the police is investigating the issue, the No To Bike Parking Tax campaigners have been asked to write to their MP (Member in Parliament) to not only make them aware of the above allegations, but also to precisely establish what course of action each MP will be taking to protect the rights of their constituents, who could potentially have been paying hundreds of pounds each in parking fines issued under illegal enforcement contracts.

Since Westminster Council is a Conservative lead local authority, how does all this sound in the run up to the local and general elections for the Tories?

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Sources (click to view):-

Police probe parking ‘fraud’ at Westminster Council

Fraud Office probe demanded into Westminster Council

No To Bike Parking Tax forum

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Please join and support the campaign to stop Westminster Council from stealth taxing motorcyclists to park before their scheme spreads all over the UK and the rest of Europe. For further details, visit http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

Rejoignez le groupe de manifestants contre le stationnement payant des motocyclistes a Westminster avant que cela ne se propage dans le reste du Royaume-Uni et l’Union Europeenne. Pour plus d’informations, consultez http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

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8 Comments
  1. Thierry permalink

    There is no smoke without fire, if these 2 are under police investigation it must be serious. It serves them right, I hope they’ll have many sleepless nights and they get locked away from the public for many years to come.
    It is time this parking racket is stopped in Westminster City Coucil.

  2. Biker permalink

    This is just unbelievable. I hope these guys will get a criminal record for what they’ve done.

  3. Paula permalink

    So as I understand it, if these allegations are proved correct, Westminster Council will have to reimburse all parking tickets issued under these illegal parking enforcement contracts. Great, I’m going to pull out the details of the few tickets I got and claim a refund. Thanks a lot No To Bike Parking Tax campaign!

  4. Paul Levin permalink

    Seems like another council which has become unaccountable to those who pays its wages. This is happening all over the country, and some say that it is due to a change agent called Common Purpose which hides behind charitable status yet encourages its tax payer funded “graduates” to lead beyond authority. Google Brian Gerrish and his expose of this organisation

  5. Phil Randome permalink

    Je n’aime pas ni l’ai confiance en politicards – ils sont voleurs et échappent leurs sanctions comme une aiguille. Vous devez voir le dénouement de cette affaire – elle sera un instance normal de blanchir de cet épisode gouvernemental.

    I don’t like nor have confidence in politicians – they are thieves & wriggle out of their misdeeds like eels. Look at the unravelling of this affair – it will be the normal instance of governmental whitewash.

  6. UK France Bikers permalink

    Phil, je suis d’accord avec vous, mais il est parfaitement possible de s’assurer que cette affaire ne passe pas aux oubliettes. Il est important que chacun d’entre nous ecrive a son MP local afin de lui demander ce qu’il/elle compte faire pour defendre les interets ses residents. C’est leur travail, ils sont la pour cela, donc mettons-les a contribution!

    Phil, I agree with you, but it is perfectly possible to make sure that this affair doesn’t get overlooked. It is important that every one of us writes to their local MP to ask them what they intend to do to protect the rights of their constituents. It is their job to do so, that’s what they are there for, so let’s make use of their time and services!

  7. Phil Randome permalink

    J’ai envoyé dèja un e-mail pour l’attention de ma MP local et hier j’ai reçu un réponse à la poste qui dit rien, effectivement. Elle a dit “soyez prudente avec vos questions” et il me semble que ça c’est une autre méthode autoritaire de dire à un prolo “ta gueule” autrefois tu feras face, peut-être, un tribunal.
    Sans doute la même pimbêche a eu des autres chats à fouetter. Il est autant pisser dans le violon.

    I’ve already sent an e-mail to my MP & yesterday I received a letter from her in the post which really said nothing. She did say however “be careful with your questions” & this seemed to me to be another method of authority to silence dissidence; the threat of litigation.It also seemed to me that I was being tolerated – she had other fish to fry. All in all it was a waste of time.

  8. UK France Bikers permalink

    Phil, ceci vous donne une idee de comment vos interets sont proteges et representes par le parti de votre MP. Il faut insister, c’est en insistant que vous obtiendrez des reponses de ces gens-la. Ils essayent toujours de se degager des questions qui les embarassent. Mais c’est en insistant et en demandant a d’autres personnes que vous connaissez d’ecrire egalement a votre MP, qu’il/elle finira enfin par reagir. Rappellez-vous qu’ils ont besoin de votre voix aux elections. Peut-etre serait-il souhaitable de poster un commentaire sur le forum de No To Bike Parking Tax pour faire appel a d’autres motocyclistes qui sont dans la meme circonscription que vous. Plus vous etes a ecrire a votre MP, plus vous aurez de chances de le/la voir reagir de maniere plus productive.

    Phil, the reaction of your MP gives you an idea of how your interests are protected and represented by this particular individual and their party. You need to insist, it’s only by insisting that you will obtain responses and get them to move their arse. At first, they always try to get away from questions that embarrass them, but it’s by insisting and going back and forth that they will do something about it. Remember, these politicians need your vote, otherwise their work is worth nothing. Perhaps it would be a good idea to post a message on the forum of the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign in order to get other bikers who live in your borough to write to your MP as well. The more letters and emails they receive, the more chances you will see them taking action.

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