Thousands of motorists in east London received an unexpected nugget of good news recently when Newham Council pledged to refund some 4,952 illegal parking tickets.
The reimbursements have come about because Newham Council employed traffic enforcement cameras that had not been specifically authorised by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) – something which is required by law to ensure technology is of a high enough calibre to be relied upon for evidence.
Newham Council continued to issue penalty notifications between 2009 and 2013 that were captured by the unauthorised equipment and, as a result, has pledged £347,000 to refund the unlawfully fined motorists.
Margaret Stroud, of B&P Carpets, which was illegally fined in May 2009 but not contacted to be offered a refund until this March, told the BBC: "It's taken a long time to get offered a refund. We feel quite upset and it has cost the business money to deal with this.
"We are frustrated with all of Newham's charges. It was an aggravation the business couldn't afford."
She added: "There might be lots of people who were illegally charged and do not know how to claim back. "
In June 2013, the council cancelled all parking tickets that were unpaid after the issue came to light but refused to refund those drivers who had settled the unlawful fines immediately.
However, it has now backtracked by writing to 4,952 people who are eligible for a refund after being issued Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) between March 2009 and February last year.
Steve Baker, of the NoToMob, which campaigns on behalf of motorists, told the BBC: "The NoToMob welcome the council's decision to return the money to those it has wronged.
"But we are most disappointed that Newham Council have had to be dragged, kicking and screaming to the point where they are finally going to do what's right."