Richard Bentley of RMB Consulting closed the ACFO conference with a lively presentation on the ways that councils and local authorities incorrectly issue parking tickets.

Through a complex variety of incorrect signage or marking of bays, many tickets issued for violations may be invalid, yet Bentley said few people attempt to challenge the fine.

“Sometimes council officials let their enthusiasm run away with them,” said Bentley. “Local authorities have an act of Parliament limiting their powers and anything outside of that is illegal.”

He said the rules state that signage needs to be the same nationwide to ensure drivers from different areas understand what signs mean, but “virtually every parking sign in the country is different as local authorities like to be different”.

“The local authorities are doing a job and they’re letting us down,” he said. “This stuff is critical, but when it comes to signing parking regimes there is a game going on.”

Bentley also told delegates that it’s easy to avoid paying fines for parking on private land. “As the driver you enter a contract with the landowner, but it’s the vehicle owner that gets the ticket – the police and council can ask for driver details, but that’s it,” he said. “And the registered keeper isn’t liable for a ticket on private land.” He recommended that vehicle owners write back to the issuer of the fine and say they aren’t prepared to say who the driver was and they’re not paying the ticket, although that does fall down with lease cars when the leasing firm pays the ticket then reclaims the cost as a charge to the contract holder.