As many as 3,000 people may have been overcharged for parking and traffic fines due to a printing blunder in Croydon.
Croydon Council has apologised after a “software problem” affected penalty charge notice (PCN) letters, meaning residents were not given the chance to appeal fines or pay a discounted rate.
Residents complained that they were not sent initial notices and so were charged £195 and threatened with action from bailiffs.
The blunder may have impacted 3,138 PCNs given out between mid-October and the start of December 2023, according to the borough’s mayor.
Residents complained to the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the error was “like Mr Bates vs The Post office,” with one resident saying they could have to cut down on food to pay the larger £195 fine.
South Norwood resident Jeanette Goddard said: “I was parking on the street, waiting to get my tyre changed.
“As I moved off the camera caught me going down that road. I paid on November 21, but they did not acknowledge it and the next letter said it had now gone up to £195.
“I’ve already sent them all the proof, so I don’t know what the problem is. There is obviously something going on with their computer system. It’s like Mr Bates vs The Post Office.”
Donna Lock, 52, told BBC London she and her partner Colin Hargell, 53, received a letter notifying Ms Lock of a £195 charge.
The letter claimed she had been sent an earlier PCN, and so charged her an increased fee and threatened action from bailiffs.
The mother explained to the BBC the pair unknowingly broke a traffic regulation order on Albert Road in November when they had to pick up her special needs child from school after a taxi failed to collect her.
She said: “"Nobody's contacted us. If there's a glitch they should have suspended sending the notices."
I promised to provide an update about the investigation into a software problem affecting some PCNs. We continue to investigate but have identified a problem with our PCN printing process that is likely to have impacted 3138 PCNs between mid-Oct and the start of Dec, 2023. 1/4
— Jason Perry - Mayor of Croydon (@JasonForCroydon) January 26, 2024
On Friday the Mayor of Croydon Jason Perry apologised after the council “identified a problem with our PCN printing process” meaning residents only became aware of fines once they had received a further notice.
Mr Perry announced the council is “working as a priority to identify everyone impacted”.
He added that any affected PCNs will be cancelled and refunds will be issued to those who have already paid.
Mr Perry added: “We are really sorry and I would personally like to apologise for any distress this has caused.”
A council spokesperson told the Standard: “We’re still investigating; however, we have identified a problem with our penalty charge notice printing process that is likely to have impacted 3138 penalty charge notices issued between mid-October and mid-December, 2023. This meant that motorists did not receive the first notice of contravention through the post, giving them the opportunity to pay the discounted rate, and only became aware of it once they received a further notice.
“We are really sorry about this, and we are working as a priority to identify everyone who has been impacted. Please be assured that any affected penalty charge notices will be cancelled. We will be issuing refunds to those who have already paid and will be in contact with them to arrange this.
“If you think you have been affected by this issue - including if you have already paid the PCN - please get in touch so we can check against our records. You can do this by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or to phone us at 0208 726 6000 select option 1, and dial extension 44056, between 9am – 4pm, Monday to Friday.”