Refund shambles

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First published in Letters by

AS A Labour member, it is disappointing how the saga of Lendal Bridge trial drags on. While I maintain that the policy direction was correct, its shambolic implementation resulted in its abandonment.

Once that was decided, it should have been manifest that all fines should be refunded irrespective of the ‘legal’ position. By agreeing to refund fined motorists as a goodwill gesture, the council has in effect admitted it was wrong and should have instigated an immediate automatic refund to all those affected.

There are three reasons for that.

Firstly, there seems the pragmatic commercial reason that the cost of ad hoc ‘goodwill’ refunds is likely to cost much more to administer than an automatic refund.

Secondly, there is the disruption to other council services – and therefore residents – while phone lines and staff are busy dealing with inquiries relating to the trial. At a time of huge council cuts, diverting staff away from valuable frontline work is not acceptable.

Finally, it will be the motorists that are most articulate who get refunded because they know how to go about obtaining a refund while those who are less so are left out of pocket. This form of administrative gate-keeping reflects poorly on Labour .

Richard Bridge, Holgate Road, York.

Comments (12)

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4:53pm Fri 29 Aug 14

wallman says...

if lendal bridge was illegal why was coppergate legal?
if lendal bridge was illegal why was coppergate legal? wallman
  • Score: -8

5:52pm Fri 29 Aug 14

marvell says...

Coppergate WAS ruled illegal and they are still pursuing an appeal on this one.
Coppergate WAS ruled illegal and they are still pursuing an appeal on this one. marvell
  • Score: -8

6:05pm Fri 29 Aug 14

Ichabod76 says...

The most amazing thing is, during the scrutiny meeting, the officer said that they had received no written legal advice for the appeal which the council has admitted cost £11000, thats right £11000 for verbal advice
You couldn't make it up!
The most amazing thing is, during the scrutiny meeting, the officer said that they had received no written legal advice for the appeal which the council has admitted cost £11000, thats right £11000 for verbal advice You couldn't make it up! Ichabod76
  • Score: -5

10:04pm Fri 29 Aug 14

strangebuttrue? says...

It is not disappointing at all that this goes on. We need to remember this going forward as we at times have too short a memory and get ourselves back in trouble again very quickly by doing the wrong things over again. On the subject of abandonment you may feel it was the implementation that let it down. Well in most York residents minds the implementation was secondary to the stupidity of closing a bridge in the first place. I note that this implementation excuse is trotted out regularly no doubt to try to make people believe it can be done better. We don't want it done better we don't want bridges closing end of.

By the way has the perpetrator of this disaster, Mr Merrett, resigned yet as he said he would on TV?
It is not disappointing at all that this goes on. We need to remember this going forward as we at times have too short a memory and get ourselves back in trouble again very quickly by doing the wrong things over again. On the subject of abandonment you may feel it was the implementation that let it down. Well in most York residents minds the implementation was secondary to the stupidity of closing a bridge in the first place. I note that this implementation excuse is trotted out regularly no doubt to try to make people believe it can be done better. We don't want it done better we don't want bridges closing end of. By the way has the perpetrator of this disaster, Mr Merrett, resigned yet as he said he would on TV? strangebuttrue?
  • Score: -58

10:08pm Fri 29 Aug 14

strangebuttrue? says...

Ichabod76 wrote:
The most amazing thing is, during the scrutiny meeting, the officer said that they had received no written legal advice for the appeal which the council has admitted cost £11000, thats right £11000 for verbal advice
You couldn't make it up!
Problem is if you get it in writing then it has to be published. If it was published it would probably confirm it was illegal. That would result in Mr Merrett having to stick to his word and resign. They probably paid a premium to get it verbally to protect the perpetrator.
[quote][p][bold]Ichabod76[/bold] wrote: The most amazing thing is, during the scrutiny meeting, the officer said that they had received no written legal advice for the appeal which the council has admitted cost £11000, thats right £11000 for verbal advice You couldn't make it up![/p][/quote]Problem is if you get it in writing then it has to be published. If it was published it would probably confirm it was illegal. That would result in Mr Merrett having to stick to his word and resign. They probably paid a premium to get it verbally to protect the perpetrator. strangebuttrue?
  • Score: -48

11:39pm Fri 29 Aug 14

gmsgop says...

strangebuttrue? wrote:
Ichabod76 wrote:
The most amazing thing is, during the scrutiny meeting, the officer said that they had received no written legal advice for the appeal which the council has admitted cost £11000, thats right £11000 for verbal advice
You couldn't make it up!
Problem is if you get it in writing then it has to be published. If it was published it would probably confirm it was illegal. That would result in Mr Merrett having to stick to his word and resign. They probably paid a premium to get it verbally to protect the perpetrator.
But a lawyer would never just give verbal advice in a matter such as this - nor could the Council possibly pay £50, £500 or as it seems £11k for just verbal legal advice. Besides all else the council would have to be held to account for value for money - it is clearly wrong on every level.

I am hoping that several 'apparent inconsistencies' at that meeting will be probed by the scrutiny Councillors as they are entitled to more info than us.

I would ask for written confirmation that all the legal advice, including that part mentioned, was verbal, request the contract and copies of correspondence between the lawyer & all council staffers & Cllrs,

I would then follow up on the extraordinary statements that the financial staff had not prepared financial scenarios of any kind -as I would expect it to have been done, as a minimum, in three dimensions
1. Cost of auto refund all fines
2. Cost of refund on request 10% 25% 50% 75% 100% applicants
3. Cost of (2) followed by loss of court case meaning (1) for all remaining fines 25/50/75/100 split as before.

Now if no such work had been done, I would be asking the auditors to investigate why - as clearly this is the most fundamental & core issue ( besides the principle) . As a most basic prudential financial management this was essential in my view.

So two cases were the facts seem at odds with basic professional standards.

Gwen Swinburn (apols for heavy comments)
[quote][p][bold]strangebuttrue?[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ichabod76[/bold] wrote: The most amazing thing is, during the scrutiny meeting, the officer said that they had received no written legal advice for the appeal which the council has admitted cost £11000, thats right £11000 for verbal advice You couldn't make it up![/p][/quote]Problem is if you get it in writing then it has to be published. If it was published it would probably confirm it was illegal. That would result in Mr Merrett having to stick to his word and resign. They probably paid a premium to get it verbally to protect the perpetrator.[/p][/quote]But a lawyer would never just give verbal advice in a matter such as this - nor could the Council possibly pay £50, £500 or as it seems £11k for just verbal legal advice. Besides all else the council would have to be held to account for value for money - it is clearly wrong on every level. I am hoping that several 'apparent inconsistencies' at that meeting will be probed by the scrutiny Councillors as they are entitled to more info than us. I would ask for written confirmation that all the legal advice, including that part mentioned, was verbal, request the contract and copies of correspondence between the lawyer & all council staffers & Cllrs, I would then follow up on the extraordinary statements that the financial staff had not prepared financial scenarios of any kind -as I would expect it to have been done, as a minimum, in three dimensions 1. Cost of auto refund all fines 2. Cost of refund on request 10% 25% 50% 75% 100% applicants 3. Cost of (2) followed by loss of court case meaning (1) for all remaining fines 25/50/75/100 split as before. Now if no such work had been done, I would be asking the auditors to investigate why - as clearly this is the most fundamental & core issue ( besides the principle) . As a most basic prudential financial management this was essential in my view. So two cases were the facts seem at odds with basic professional standards. Gwen Swinburn (apols for heavy comments) gmsgop
  • Score: -62

12:53am Sat 30 Aug 14

strangebuttrue? says...

gmsgop wrote:
strangebuttrue? wrote:
Ichabod76 wrote:
The most amazing thing is, during the scrutiny meeting, the officer said that they had received no written legal advice for the appeal which the council has admitted cost £11000, thats right £11000 for verbal advice
You couldn't make it up!
Problem is if you get it in writing then it has to be published. If it was published it would probably confirm it was illegal. That would result in Mr Merrett having to stick to his word and resign. They probably paid a premium to get it verbally to protect the perpetrator.
But a lawyer would never just give verbal advice in a matter such as this - nor could the Council possibly pay £50, £500 or as it seems £11k for just verbal legal advice. Besides all else the council would have to be held to account for value for money - it is clearly wrong on every level.

I am hoping that several 'apparent inconsistencies' at that meeting will be probed by the scrutiny Councillors as they are entitled to more info than us.

I would ask for written confirmation that all the legal advice, including that part mentioned, was verbal, request the contract and copies of correspondence between the lawyer & all council staffers & Cllrs,

I would then follow up on the extraordinary statements that the financial staff had not prepared financial scenarios of any kind -as I would expect it to have been done, as a minimum, in three dimensions
1. Cost of auto refund all fines
2. Cost of refund on request 10% 25% 50% 75% 100% applicants
3. Cost of (2) followed by loss of court case meaning (1) for all remaining fines 25/50/75/100 split as before.

Now if no such work had been done, I would be asking the auditors to investigate why - as clearly this is the most fundamental & core issue ( besides the principle) . As a most basic prudential financial management this was essential in my view.

So two cases were the facts seem at odds with basic professional standards.

Gwen Swinburn (apols for heavy comments)
Your comments make perfect sense and all that you say would be totally correct in a world where honesty prevailed. Unfortunately this whole thing appears to be a load of smoke and mirrors and downright misleading of the residents of York by those in office. Will we ever get to the truth? Will Mr Merrett ever resign? Can pigs fly?
[quote][p][bold]gmsgop[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]strangebuttrue?[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ichabod76[/bold] wrote: The most amazing thing is, during the scrutiny meeting, the officer said that they had received no written legal advice for the appeal which the council has admitted cost £11000, thats right £11000 for verbal advice You couldn't make it up![/p][/quote]Problem is if you get it in writing then it has to be published. If it was published it would probably confirm it was illegal. That would result in Mr Merrett having to stick to his word and resign. They probably paid a premium to get it verbally to protect the perpetrator.[/p][/quote]But a lawyer would never just give verbal advice in a matter such as this - nor could the Council possibly pay £50, £500 or as it seems £11k for just verbal legal advice. Besides all else the council would have to be held to account for value for money - it is clearly wrong on every level. I am hoping that several 'apparent inconsistencies' at that meeting will be probed by the scrutiny Councillors as they are entitled to more info than us. I would ask for written confirmation that all the legal advice, including that part mentioned, was verbal, request the contract and copies of correspondence between the lawyer & all council staffers & Cllrs, I would then follow up on the extraordinary statements that the financial staff had not prepared financial scenarios of any kind -as I would expect it to have been done, as a minimum, in three dimensions 1. Cost of auto refund all fines 2. Cost of refund on request 10% 25% 50% 75% 100% applicants 3. Cost of (2) followed by loss of court case meaning (1) for all remaining fines 25/50/75/100 split as before. Now if no such work had been done, I would be asking the auditors to investigate why - as clearly this is the most fundamental & core issue ( besides the principle) . As a most basic prudential financial management this was essential in my view. So two cases were the facts seem at odds with basic professional standards. Gwen Swinburn (apols for heavy comments)[/p][/quote]Your comments make perfect sense and all that you say would be totally correct in a world where honesty prevailed. Unfortunately this whole thing appears to be a load of smoke and mirrors and downright misleading of the residents of York by those in office. Will we ever get to the truth? Will Mr Merrett ever resign? Can pigs fly? strangebuttrue?
  • Score: -18

10:40am Sat 30 Aug 14

RingoStarr says...

He's back.

minus 453221998 (at least) for this.
He's back. minus 453221998 (at least) for this. RingoStarr
  • Score: -15

11:36am Sat 30 Aug 14

Jack Ham says...

gmsgop wrote:
strangebuttrue? wrote:
Ichabod76 wrote:
The most amazing thing is, during the scrutiny meeting, the officer said that they had received no written legal advice for the appeal which the council has admitted cost £11000, thats right £11000 for verbal advice
You couldn't make it up!
Problem is if you get it in writing then it has to be published. If it was published it would probably confirm it was illegal. That would result in Mr Merrett having to stick to his word and resign. They probably paid a premium to get it verbally to protect the perpetrator.
But a lawyer would never just give verbal advice in a matter such as this - nor could the Council possibly pay £50, £500 or as it seems £11k for just verbal legal advice. Besides all else the council would have to be held to account for value for money - it is clearly wrong on every level.

I am hoping that several 'apparent inconsistencies' at that meeting will be probed by the scrutiny Councillors as they are entitled to more info than us.

I would ask for written confirmation that all the legal advice, including that part mentioned, was verbal, request the contract and copies of correspondence between the lawyer & all council staffers & Cllrs,

I would then follow up on the extraordinary statements that the financial staff had not prepared financial scenarios of any kind -as I would expect it to have been done, as a minimum, in three dimensions
1. Cost of auto refund all fines
2. Cost of refund on request 10% 25% 50% 75% 100% applicants
3. Cost of (2) followed by loss of court case meaning (1) for all remaining fines 25/50/75/100 split as before.

Now if no such work had been done, I would be asking the auditors to investigate why - as clearly this is the most fundamental & core issue ( besides the principle) . As a most basic prudential financial management this was essential in my view.

So two cases were the facts seem at odds with basic professional standards.

Gwen Swinburn (apols for heavy comments)
Sadly Gwens common sense approach is meaningless to Kersten England, James Alexander, Tracy Simpson-Laing, Dave Merrett, David Levene, Sonja Crisp, Linsey Cunningham and Daf Williams.

Gwens approach assumes they want what is best for the city but they clearly have other motives.

Career advancement, ego boosting and bizarre political ideology are what interests them.

Doing what's best for York. Not a chance.

Gwen so are the true champion of the people. Respect.
[quote][p][bold]gmsgop[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]strangebuttrue?[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ichabod76[/bold] wrote: The most amazing thing is, during the scrutiny meeting, the officer said that they had received no written legal advice for the appeal which the council has admitted cost £11000, thats right £11000 for verbal advice You couldn't make it up![/p][/quote]Problem is if you get it in writing then it has to be published. If it was published it would probably confirm it was illegal. That would result in Mr Merrett having to stick to his word and resign. They probably paid a premium to get it verbally to protect the perpetrator.[/p][/quote]But a lawyer would never just give verbal advice in a matter such as this - nor could the Council possibly pay £50, £500 or as it seems £11k for just verbal legal advice. Besides all else the council would have to be held to account for value for money - it is clearly wrong on every level. I am hoping that several 'apparent inconsistencies' at that meeting will be probed by the scrutiny Councillors as they are entitled to more info than us. I would ask for written confirmation that all the legal advice, including that part mentioned, was verbal, request the contract and copies of correspondence between the lawyer & all council staffers & Cllrs, I would then follow up on the extraordinary statements that the financial staff had not prepared financial scenarios of any kind -as I would expect it to have been done, as a minimum, in three dimensions 1. Cost of auto refund all fines 2. Cost of refund on request 10% 25% 50% 75% 100% applicants 3. Cost of (2) followed by loss of court case meaning (1) for all remaining fines 25/50/75/100 split as before. Now if no such work had been done, I would be asking the auditors to investigate why - as clearly this is the most fundamental & core issue ( besides the principle) . As a most basic prudential financial management this was essential in my view. So two cases were the facts seem at odds with basic professional standards. Gwen Swinburn (apols for heavy comments)[/p][/quote]Sadly Gwens common sense approach is meaningless to Kersten England, James Alexander, Tracy Simpson-Laing, Dave Merrett, David Levene, Sonja Crisp, Linsey Cunningham and Daf Williams. Gwens approach assumes they want what is best for the city but they clearly have other motives. Career advancement, ego boosting and bizarre political ideology are what interests them. Doing what's best for York. Not a chance. Gwen so are the true champion of the people. Respect. Jack Ham
  • Score: -8

9:51pm Sat 30 Aug 14

gmsgop says...

Thanks Jack - really appreciate your inputs, perspective and support, always. You are right, I only want the best for the city which includes a much improved democratic governance and genuine open transparency. It's a slog and clearly we are at the begining of a ling journey, but has to be done.

We as a community must continue individual and collective efforts to call this lot to account, until they staff and councillors understand what a proper local democracy is all about- and they understand that their job is to serve us citizens not themselves and their CVs.

gwen swinburn
Thanks Jack - really appreciate your inputs, perspective and support, always. You are right, I only want the best for the city which includes a much improved democratic governance and genuine open transparency. It's a slog and clearly we are at the begining of a ling journey, but has to be done. We as a community must continue individual and collective efforts to call this lot to account, until they staff and councillors understand what a proper local democracy is all about- and they understand that their job is to serve us citizens not themselves and their CVs. gwen swinburn gmsgop
  • Score: -9

10:15pm Sat 30 Aug 14

notpedallingpaul says...

Question Gwen, I assume the council are holding the money from the Lendal Bridge fines in a bank account, therefore it will be earning interest.
What happens to that interest, do they just keep it, and if they do how do they account for it during an audit?
Question Gwen, I assume the council are holding the money from the Lendal Bridge fines in a bank account, therefore it will be earning interest. What happens to that interest, do they just keep it, and if they do how do they account for it during an audit? notpedallingpaul
  • Score: -32

10:39pm Sat 30 Aug 14

gmsgop says...

Good question npp- I don't have answer, maybe others will - but - they will be getting a little interest -guessing up to 0.4 ish% and Unless the law dictates otherwise - I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up in the special accounts that are used to prop up overspending departments, as happens every spring.

Mind you I envisage this year we will see some extra cash being sloshed around earlier to allow for some war chest election spending by our James ( afterall us 'ordinary residents' are far too stupid to see through that tactic).

I was by the way surprised to see virtually all James's £54 million economic infrastructure fund forecast to be spent by the end of this year ( including the £10 million bridge, 3.5 guildhall etc) now if you account for the interest costs of borrowing all that money, then you don't borrow it (cause they can't spend it in time)- that is a healthy 'bonus' from nowhere to backstop overspending or to contribute to war chests - I have raised this with finance & will with the auditors too.

Sure there are others with a more in depth understanding on this than me that can assist here-
Gwen swinburn
Good question npp- I don't have answer, maybe others will - but - they will be getting a little interest -guessing up to 0.4 ish% and Unless the law dictates otherwise - I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up in the special accounts that are used to prop up overspending departments, as happens every spring. Mind you I envisage this year we will see some extra cash being sloshed around earlier to allow for some war chest election spending by our James ( afterall us 'ordinary residents' are far too stupid to see through that tactic). I was by the way surprised to see virtually all James's £54 million economic infrastructure fund forecast to be spent by the end of this year ( including the £10 million bridge, 3.5 guildhall etc) now if you account for the interest costs of borrowing all that money, then you don't borrow it (cause they can't spend it in time)- that is a healthy 'bonus' from nowhere to backstop overspending or to contribute to war chests - I have raised this with finance & will with the auditors too. Sure there are others with a more in depth understanding on this than me that can assist here- Gwen swinburn gmsgop
  • Score: -9
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