(page created 26 September 2018, last revised 8 January 2019)
SCRAP MERSEY TOLLS PETITION on 38 Degrees
Scrap Mersey Tolls - Facebook open group
No Tolls home page
Main Mersey Gateway page
News of the scheme to March 2018 at the MTUA website
MERSEY GATEWAY AND PENALTIES
'Scrap Mersey Tolls' is the campaign against the tolling of the old and new bridges between Runcorn and Widnes. The group also opposes Mersey Tunnels tolls. This web page deals with Penalties on the Mersey Gateway
GENERAL ADVICE IF YOU ARE BEING CHASED FOR TOLLS, PENALTIES AND COSTS
STAGE ONE - MAKING A REPRESENTATION ONLINE TO MERSEYFLOW
STAGE TWO - MAKING AN APPEAL ONLINE TO TRAFFIC PENALTY TRIBUNAL
Stage Two Continued - Evidence to Traffic Penalty Tribunal
STAGE THREE - TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT CENTRE - CHARGE CERTIFICATES
STAGE FOUR - TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT CENTRE - RECOVERY ORDERS
STAGE FIVE - THE BAILIFFS
A few case histories.
Paying tolls on a previously free crossing is bad enough, but to make it worse the politicians decided to have a penalty system which is inconveniencing many people and damaging their lives. If you do not pay a toll for which Merseyflow think you are liable, then you will be sent a Penalty Charge Notice or PCN. For simplicity we generally refer on this page to the 'driver' but it is not the driver who is liable to pay the toll, it is the registered keeper of the vehicle. The driver is only liable if the vehicle is hired or a company car.
The PCNs are often referred to as 'fines' and they have been handing them out like confetti with about 900,000 issued in the first 12 months. The millionth PCN will have been issued just before the end of November 2018.
If you cross without paying on time - or they claim that happened - usually Merseyflow will issue the PCN within two weeks, but you may have a long wait for the PCN as national politicians did not set any deadline for this. For a period Merseyflow issued some PCNs twice!
The PCN will demand payment of the toll plus a penalty of £40 for each unpaid crossing. The penalty is reduced to £20 if you pay within 14 days.
Up to 18th April 2018 when the Council rushed through a new Tolls Order, tolls and penalty charge notices were not enforceable because of mistakes that Halton Council had made. Following the new Order they were still not enforceable as the Council did not bother to correct the wording on the Penalty Charge Notices for a month.
We believe that the tolls and penalties, even now, still do not comply with the law and are not enforceable. We suggest that as soon as possible after you receive the PCN, instead of paying them the £22 or £42 per crossing, you make a 'representation'. You can do this whatever your grounds and whether you have any evidence or not.
We realise that it is a pain and you may decide not to bother or may fear the risk of
losing. That is what Halton Council and Merseyflow rely on- that you will pay them the penalty to get it out of the way until the next time that you are stung.
So far (up to Xmas 2018) EVERYONE WHO HAS MADE A REPRESENTATION AND STUCK TO IT HAS NOT HAD TO PAY THE PENALTY. Either Merseyflow have dropped chasing the penalty, or if not and the PCN has been appealed to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, then the Tribunal have so far always allowed the appeal, though there is a backlog of about 100 appeals waiting for a decision.
There will be various reasons why people do not deal with letters from Merseyflow.
The letters may go to the wrong address.
They may be opened by someone who does not pass the letter on to the correct person.
The person they are addressed to may be away from home for a long period due to work, holiday, detention or visiting.
The person may be physically ill or have a mental condition that makes it difficult for them to deal with demanding letters from Merseyflow.
The person may have difficulty with mobility, hearing or sight.
They may not be able to read.
They may not understand English.
They may have neither access to or experience with the Internet, without which it is difficult to deal with Merseyflow.
They may be overwhelmed by the amount of correspondence.
They may have tried to sort things out with Merseyflow but got no sensible answers from them.
They may even be using the crossing and deliberately not paying.
Whatever the reason for not dealing with the letters, the results are horrendous.
An unpaid toll or a toll paid late, results in a letter demanding payment of the tolls plus a penalty of £20, which increases to £40 if not paid within 14 days.
If the letter is ignored or the person fails in any attempt to deal with it then a charge certificate is issued. The amount demanded as a penalty charge for each crossing now increases to £60 plus any unpaid toll.
If the charge certificate is ignored or the person fails in any attempt to deal with it then a Recovery Order (TE3) is issued. £8 is added for a 'Court registration fee' and the amount demanded for each crossing is now £68 plus any unpaid toll.
If the Recovery Order is ignored or the person fails in any attempt to deal with it then a Notice of Enforcement is issued. £75 is added as a 'Compliance Stage fee' and the amount demanded for each crossing is now £143 plus any unpaid toll.
If the Notice of Enforcement is ignored or the person fails in any attempt to deal with it then a Warrant of Control is issued. The amount demanded for each crossing is still £143 plus the unpaid toll.
But on top of that there is now an additional 'fee' of £235 if there is a visit by the 'enforcement agent' plus a further 'fee' of £110 if they seize any of your belongings. So the total amount demanded for just one crossing could be as much as £478 plus any unpaid toll.
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The group has issued various press releases to over thirty press contacts, those that deal mainly with penalties will be posted here. We start with the latest one, which like most of our press releases was largely ignored as no one seems to want to upset the local politicians-
PR on 4th, 6th December 2018 - One Million Penalties.
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THE FIGURES for THE GREAT PENALTY GAME
THE PENALTY FIGURES TO SEPTEMBER 2018
We have with some difficulty obtained from Halton Council, figures for the numbers of PCNs etc up to the end of September 2018. The figures are staggering - though their figure for the number of appeals is widely different from figures issued by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. We do not know who is correct but this set of figures is based on what the Council say This is what the Council gave us and this is our summary based on what the Council gave us
For the 50 weeks from when the bridge opened on 13 /14 October 2017-
855,000 PCNs were issued.
The number of PCNs has fluctuated but has averaged about 2,430 a day. The number of penalties would surprise most people, but it would not surprise the politicians. Just before the bridge opened, Halton Council told the Traffic Penalty Tribunal that they expected there would be about 2,400 penalties issued each day (from an agreement between the Council and the PATROL Joint Committee that oversees the Tribunal).
We don't know how the Council arrived at their estimate, but the only other crossing with the same system is at Dartford and in 2015/16 they averaged 7,300 penalties a day with about three times the tolled traffic - and one third of 7,300 is 2,400.
606,000 PCNs were paid and 249,000 not paid.
223,000 representations were made of which only 16,000 were rejected by Merseyflow. And 7,000 of the 16,000 rejections included an offer to in effect cancel the PCN if the toll was paid.
Only 2,300 of PCNs where the representation was rejected were then appealed to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
(Note that based on figures from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal the number of appeals as at end of September would have been about 4,700 - twice what the Council say it is. We do not know who is in error.)
Whatever the correct number of appeals is, the number won by the Council is - none.
177,000 Charge certificates threatening court action had been issued.
Only 17,000 of those were then paid.
That leaves 160,000 that may receive a Recovery Order (we know that lots of people have but the Council only started issuing them after the end of September).
As well as the figures from the Council which go up to the end of September 2018, we have also been able to get some figures from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal itself on three occasions - to the end of January, to end of May and to 30th October 2018.
To end of January the total issued PCNs was 242,690. To end of May it was 519,619. To end of September (calculated from the Council's 'dashboard') it was 855,000. To end of October we have not been given a figure but estimate it was 940,000.
The figures show that drivers who are not in the LUDS or Blue Badge scheme will on average receive a PCN for every sixteenth crossing.
(There were 22,334,000 crossings of which 7,750,000 were by cars registered for free residents' crossings and 852,000 were by cars registered by Blue Badge holders for free crossings. That leaves 13,730,000 crossings for which a toll would be payable and of those 855,000 got a penalty.)
PCNs appealed to the Tribunal
It seems that the vast majority of drivers who use the bridges are a soft touch. Since the bridge opened in October last year, only about 0.5% of PCNs (that is one in two hundred) has been appealed to the Tribunal.
To end of January there were 3,010 appeals, and to end of May 3,810. To end of September per the Council there were 2,319 but this figure seems to be wrong. To 30th October there were 4,950 appeals.
There figures also show that the number of appeals has been falling, from when the bridge opened to the end of January there were 27 appeals a day, since then there have only been about 8 appeals a day despite the fact that so far the Council has not won a single appeal.
Outcome of appeals
Of the 4,950 appeals to the Tribunal as at 30th October-
No appeals were dismissed (i.e. the Council had won none).
3,662 appeals had not been contested by the Council (so the appellant automatically won).
981 appeals had been allowed (the Council opposed the appeal and the adjudicator decided in favour of the appellant).
111 appeals ended without a decision (64 were 'closed by consent', 26 were 'withdrawn by the appellant' and 21 had the 'registration rejected'.
196 appeals were waiting for a decision. This seems to be because the Tribunal is looking at several test cases. The decision on the test cases will presumably be applied to the rest of the outstanding appeals.
(Note that the Tribunal and Council seem to have widely different figures for the number of appeals outstanding, the Council think that there are less than 100 appeals outstanding.)
PENALTY NUMBERS AND INCOME BY MONTH
The only figures that are available are those published on their 'Dashboard'
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| Month ||PCNs ||Days ||PCNs |
|2017 Oct ||5,000 ||18 ||278 ||0.0|
|2017 Nov ||111,000 ||30 ||3,700 ||0.9|
|2017 Dec ||65,000 ||31 ||2,097 ||0.9|
|2018 Jan ||62,000 ||31 ||2,000 ||0.9|
|2018 Feb ||54,000 ||28 ||1,929 ||0.7|
|2018 Mar ||75,000 ||31 ||2,419 ||0.8|
|2018 Apr ||67,000 ||30 ||2,233 ||0.7|
|2018 May ||80,000 ||31 ||2,581 ||0.8|
|2018 Jun ||92,000 ||30 ||3,067 ||0.9|
|2018 Jul ||71,000 ||31 ||2,290 ||0.7|
|2018 Aug ||80,000 ||31 ||2,581 ||0.9|
|2018 Sep ||93,000 ||30 ||3,100 ||0.9|
|TOTAL ||855,000 ||352 ||2,429 ||9.1|
GENERAL ADVICE IF YOU ARE BEING CHASED FOR TOLLS, PENALTIES AND COSTS
We believe that the tolls enforcement is illegal. This may eventually be confirmed by decisions on appeals to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, but in the meantime other courts will probably side with Merseyflow and the toll enforcers, SO DO NOT IGNORE ANYTHING THAT THEY SEND YOU. PAY UP OR FIGHT IT.
Whatever stage of the process it is at, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO ACT QUICKLY, even if you either ignored or were unable to deal with previous stages of the process.
Be careful what you say on Facebook or other social media as you may say something which later makes it hard to fight penalties and costs.
This terrible system is the fault of the politicians, so contact your MP and councillor so that they can not say that they do not know what is going on. They may even help you!!
STAGE 1 - MAKING A REPRESENTATION ONLINE TO MERSEYFLOW
If you intend to pay the toll then we suggest that you do so even if it is past the deadline. If it is only slightly late, this may mean that you do not get a PCN. Even if you still get a PCN, it may increase the chances of it being cancelled.
You have 28 days to make a representation after you receive the Penalty Charge Notice, but we strongly recommend that you do it as soon as you can. We also suggest that you do it even if you are past the 28 days as Merseyflow may accept it.
This guide is based on making a representation online. Note that if you are
making a representation on more than one ground, then there is no facility for doing
this online, but we suggest below how you can get round this.
You do not have to make a representation online, for other ways of doing it see our FULL GUIDE - 'Got a PCN from Merseyflow'(a pdf file). It covers the process from before you get a PCN up to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal and covers making representations in writing.
How to do it
With your PCN handy go to this Merseyflow web page. Then click on 'next'.
The 'What you will need' screen, refers to 'supporting evidence'. If you are
appealing on the grounds of 'procedural impropriety' then you do not need any at
this stage. Click on 'Next'.
On next page, 'Penalty Charge Notice', enter the PCN number and the vehicle
registration number (on your PCN). Select the PCN(s).Then click on 'Next'.
On next page, 'Your details', enter Your name and other personal details. All the
fields are mandatory, if you don't have an email address then use a friend's. You
can use the same number in both the phone fields. Then click on 'Next'.
On next page, 'Grounds', click next to the Grounds for your representation.
We believe that the tolls and penalties do not properly comply with the law and are not enforceable. We therefore suggest that you use the procedural impropriety ground whatever other grounds you may have.
You then need to click on the bottom box which says 'The option I have selected...'. Then click on 'Next'.
On next page, 'Supporting evidence', you can upload a file - if you have one, and
you can make a 'supporting evidence statement'.
If you are using the 'Procedural impropriety' ground then we suggest that you type
in Either -
"The Tolling, the Charging Orders and the PCNs do not comply with the law." or,
"According to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, there has been a procedural impropriety on the part of the Charging Authority. There is no toll payable"
If you have some other reasons or grounds why you think that the penalty is wrong, then we suggest that you add that in the same box. Then click on 'Next'.
On next page, 'Verification', check what you have entered. You also need to click
again on 'The option I have selected...'. Then click on 'Next'.
The next page is a 'Confirmation' page. They do not send email acknowledgements or even provide a reference number, but you may try to take a screenshot of this page even
though it does not show a reference number.
What happens next?
Merseyflow must respond to your representation within 56 days of when you make it. They will do one of three things-
They may tell you that they are cancelling the PCN. There is no penalty to pay, and no toll unless you have already paid it.
They may make you an offer to forget about the penalty providing you pay the toll. We suggest that you do not accept this offer, but realise that most people will pay to avoid further risk and trouble.
They may send you a 'Notice of Rejection', which sometimes also includes an offer to forget about the penalty providing you pay the toll.
Our advice is to appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal if you have NOT been given the £2 offer.
IF you are given the £2 offer then you may well want to accept it to avoid risk. You could hedge your bets if you have more than one PCN, by accepting the offer for most of the PCNs but appealing one to the Tribunal.
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STAGE 2 - MAKING AN APPEAL ONLINE TO TRAFFIC PENALTY TRIBUNAL
This guide is based on making the appeal online which is the standard way that appeals are made. You do not have to do it online, you can ring them on 0800 160 1999, and they will send you a form. The appeals process is covered at this page on the Tribunal site.
You have 28 days to appeal to the Tribunal, but as with the representation stage we strongly recommend that you it as soon as you can.
How to do it
You will need your Notice of Rejection to hand and you will also have to decide what your grounds of appeal are and what evidence, if any, that you have. If nothing else, we suggest that you appeal on the grounds that there has been a 'procedural impropriety' - this means that Merseyflow or Halton Borough Council have not complied with the relevant acts, regulations and orders.
To appeal online you will also need an email address. If you have not got one then you might use a close friend's or relative's or set one up such as using Google Mail.
Note that to make the appeal you do not have to submit any evidence at this stage. The process as detailed below will take you ten to fifteen minutes.
Go to this Traffic Penalty Tribunal link. Under 'Have you received a Notice of Rejection of Representations?' click on 'Yes' and enter first two letters of the PCN - this is always 'XM'. Then click on 'next'.
The next page is 'Before you begin your appeal'. There is a link to a short video, which you may want to watch. Then scroll down to bottom and click on 'Begin appeal'.
Next page is 'Your appeal', You need to complete three boxes-
'PIN/Online/Appeal code' is the 'Appeal Code' number that will be in a box on the third page of your Notice of Rejection.
The other two boxes are for your 'Vehicle Registration Number' and the 'PCN Number'.
If you are appealing against other PCNs for the same vehicle then click on 'Add another PCN'.Then click on 'Next'.
The next page is 'Register (New User)'. If you have appealed before then you can 'Sign in'. If you have not appealed before then enter an email address and a password. Then click on 'Register'
If you don't have an email address then click on the link 'Don't have an email address' which will suggest how to get one.
Next page is 'Your Appeal'. It will, hopefully, tell you that your email address has been confirmed. Click on 'Raise Appeal'.
The next page is 'Personal Details'. On tab 1, you indicate whether you are appealing for yourself or on behalf of someone else. You are then given a long list of personal details to complete. All the fields are mandatory, if you don't have a 'secondary phone' then use the same number as your 'primary phone'. Then click on 'Next'.
Next page is tab 2, 'Vehicle details', you have to tick to indicate that you own the vehicle or you have sold it or it is a company or hire vehicle. Then click on 'Next'.
The next page is tab 3, 'Why are you appealing'. You have to say whether the vehicle did make a crossing on the time and date stated on the PCN. You also have to say whether you paid on time or not. If you do not remember then you can click on 'I don't know'.
There is a box for you to say why the toll was not paid or not paid on time. You can give as many reasons as you like including that you did pay the toll and paid it on time.
Apart from any other reason we suggest that you say ' I believe that the tolls and penalties have not been properly introduced and are not enforceable'..
When you have given your reasons, then click on 'Next'
Next page is tab 4, 'Evidence'. There is a box in which you can add evidence to support your reasons for appealing. You do not have to do this now, you can just enter ' I will add evidence at a later date.' On the same page you can also 'Upload evidence'. This could be text files, copies of emails, images etc.
You do not have to, but we suggest that whatever other evidence you have or have not, you upload our four evidence docs
When you have done what you want, then click on 'Next'
The next page is tab 5, 'Check and Declaration'. This is a chance to review what you have entered. If it is wrong then you will have to go 'Back'.
If it is alright then click on the box at the bottom '..to confirm you agree' and then click on 'Submit my appeal'.
Next page is headed 'Checking Details', it is the final one and requires no input. You should get an email acknowledgement of the appeal from the Tribunal.
What happens next?
Using your email address and the password that you have given to them, you can log back onto your appeal at any time.
You will need to do this if you are adding anything to your appeal including more evidence.
You can also see how the Council react to your appeal and have a chance to comment on anything that they might say.
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STAGE 2 continued - EVIDENCE TO TRAFFIC PENALTY TRIBUNAL
Below are links to four documents that can be cited by anyone who makes an appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal using the grounds of 'procedural impropriety'.
You can click on the links and save the documents on your computer and then log on to your appeal at the Tribunal website, click on the 'Evidence' tab, then chose 'Add Evidence' and then 'Upload Evidence'. If you can not do that, then instead copy this link location (you may need to right click) and then paste it.
Doc 1 - Background to the Mersey Gateway scheme.
Doc 2 - Orders prior to the April 2018 Charging Order.
Doc 3 - The April 2018 Charging Order.
Doc 4 - No power to make an Order on Gateway Crossing for Road user charges under Transport Act 2000, and ways in which the Council do not comply with the Regulations.
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STAGE THREE - TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT CENTRE - CHARGE CERTIFICATES
This section describes the start of the Traffic Enforcement Centre process. There is also a version of this information that was prepared in May as a document which covers the whole of the TEC process.
During summer 2018, Merseyflow started issuing 'Charge Certificates' increasing the penalty to £60. They are issued if-
The driver fails to do anything within 28 days of receiving the PCN.
Within the 28 days of receiving the PCN the driver makes a representation, but they later receive a 'Notice of Rejection' and fail to do anything within 28 days of receiving the 'Notice of Rejection'.
After receiving a Notice of Rejection the driver did appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal within 28 days but the Tribunal dismissed the appeal (as at 28 October 2018, there have been no appeals dismissed, though a few have failed for reasons such as being too late).
The Charge Certificate gives no option other than to either pay the £60 per PCN within 14 days or wait till "Mersey Gateway Crossing" apply to the County Court for a 'Order for recovery of unpaid penalty charge'.
Merseyflow know that most people will be scared by the charge certificate and pay up.
Though the Charge Certificate says that a Recovery Order could be issued after 14 days, in practice none were issued till early October. This meant that there could have been a gap of several months between the two documents and a lot of people will not have made the connection.
When you get a Charge Certificate, YOU HAVE THESE CHOICES-
EITHER - Pay the amount demanded - £62 per toll that they claim was not paid - if you can afford it.
OR do some, preferably all, of the following-
1. Ring Merseyflow on 01928 878 878 (or go to the Walk-in centre at Howard Court,
Manor Park, Runcorn, WA7 1SJ) and see what they say. They may say that they can do nothing.
2. Make a late representation (see http://www.notolls.org.uk/smtpcn.htm#makereponline) against the PCNs that they are now asking money for.
Technically this will be too late, but they may accept it and the process will roll back- everything will be cancelled though they will probably reissue the PCNs.
3. Complete the forms that you will get at the next stage.
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STAGE FOUR - TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT CENTRE - RECOVERY ORDERS
Drivers are regarded as easy victims and there are MILLIONS of penalties issued that would overwhelm the County Court system. So they have a special County court with no judges- the Northampton Bulk Business Centre that automatically registers debts against drivers. The part of the court that deals with parking and tolls is known as the 'Traffic Enforcement Centre'. They do not normally have hearings.
If after 14 days from service of the Charge Certificate, it is unpaid, Halton Council can apply to the Traffic Enforcement Centre to recover the unpaid charge, as if it were payable under a County Court Order. Note that only Halton Council are allowed to do this, but we believe that they have illegally delegated this to one company or other.
Though they have to wait 14 days, it seems that for the earlier ones they waited nearly two months before asking the TEC to authorise the issue of an "Order for recovery of unpaid penalty charge", otherwise known as a TE3.
The minimum gap between receipt of a charge certificate and receipt of the Recovery Order will be about 18 days.
For each crossing the amount payable is now £68 (including £8 for the court's fee) plus the unpaid toll. Note that there may be no unpaid toll as the toll may have been already paid, but paid late.
The TE3 gives another chance to pay and warns you that "If you do nothing your possessions may be removed and sold to pay this charge." So do NOT ignore it.
If you have received a TE3 form, then you should also have been sent TE7 and TE9 forms. These are very important.
The TE9 is a 'Witness Statement' that you can complete. It has various boxes that you can tick.
Tick any box that genuinely applies and send the form back.
You can either do this by post or you can get an electronic copy of the TE9 form from here. Note that if you use the web address that is shown on the TE3 form (www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/cms/tec.htm) it will not work.
Download and save the form and you should then be able to type in the boxes and save the completed version. You can then email it to- email@example.com .
Note that the form says 'Dart Charge' which is not the Gateway but the Traffic Enforcement Centre has not got a form for the Gateway.
The boxes available to tick on the TE9 form are-
"I did not receive the Penalty Charge Notice."
I made representations about the penalty charge to the Charging Authority concerned, within 28 days of the service of the Penalty Charge Notice, but did not receive a rejection notice.
I appealed to an adjudicator against the Charging Authority's decision to reject my representation, within 28 days of service of the Rejection notice, but have either:
Had no response to the appeal,
The appeal had not been determined by the time that the charge certificate had been served, or
The appeal was determined in my favour.
The penalty charge has been paid in full.
The box that is most likely to apply is that you (as the registered keeper of the vehicle) did not receive the PCNs, possibly because you had a shared postal address, or your partner may not have shown it to you or you may have been away from home long term. Obviously if you have previously been in contact with Merseyflow about the PCN, then you must have received it and you can not say that you did not receive it.
Unfortunately a lot of people may not be able to remember whether they received a PCN and if so then what they did about it.
It is possible that you think you have made a representation to Merseyflow (by post or online) but there is nothing recorded. When you make a representation there is no sure way of proving that you did (or tried to) make a representation as Merseyflow's systems are poor and they do not send you any acknowledgement when you make a representation.
There is another possibility, but there is no box on the form for it. You may NOT have received the Charge Certificate before you got the TE3. The Regulations say that you should have been 'served' with the Charge certificate, if you did not receive one then say so on the form.
You must return the TE9 as soon as you can. If it is delayed beyond the date marked in a box on the front of the TE3 form then you also need to complete the TE7 'Out of time' form and say why you are submitting the forms late.
If you submit the TE9 form in time to the TEC with one of the boxes ticked then the TEC will tell Merseyflow to stop recovery action. This takes the process back to before the PCN was issued. Merseyflow will probably issue another PCN, but this gives you the chance to either pay the penalty at the reduced rate of £20 or challenge it by making a representation. Note that any representation that you made before will now be dead, so if you are making a representation then you will need to make a fresh one.
If you are returning the TE9 form late, then you also need to fill in and return the TE7 form 'Application to file a statement out of time/ extension of time'.
As with the TE9 form, you can either do this by post or you can get an electronic copy of the TE7 form from here.
Download and save the form and you should then be able to type in the boxes and save the completed version and then email both the TE7 and TE9 tothe TE.
Possible reasons for doing the return late include "I was on holiday when the TE3 arrived." "I was working away from home when the TE3 arrived." "I was looking after a sick relative and so was away from home when the TE3 arrived."
If you are submitting the TE9 form late and therefore also have to return the TE7, then the TE3 is NOT automatically cancelled. Instead the 'court' refer the TE7 to Merseyflow who will decide whether to accept the reason that you have given for the late submission. We believe that it is really Halton Council that should be considerer this, and that what Merseyflow are doing is illegal. Though this particular illegality may not matter as we believe that Merseyflow have been accepting all reasons given for lateness and stopping the recovery action. As with TE9s that were returned on time, though the recovery action stops, Merseyflow will probably reissue the PCN.
Most people will have received at least two sets of TE forms and some people will receive a lot more. We believe that the TEC used to allow the return of just one TE( listing all the related PCNs. Whatever used to apply, the TEC now insist on the return of individual forms for each PCN.
As well as returning the TE forms you may also wish to contact Merseyflow. You can point out any error and may be able to negotiate a payment less than what is demanded in the Recovery Order.
Lastly if you believe that either you did not see any previous forms or were not able to deal with them (for instance you may have been suffering from some illness that made it difficult or impossible to deal with this persecution by Merseyflow) then you should make a 'representation' (see how to above).
Merseyflow may not be required to consider such a late representation, but we think that in practice they do, which then halts the recovery process.
SO, IF ANY OF THE BOXES ON THE TE9 APPLY AND YOU CAN TICK THEM, OR MERSEYFLOW ACCEPT YOUR PLEA OR ACCEPT A LATE REPRESENTATION, THEN THE WHOLE RECOVERY PROCESS IS STOPPED, IT ALL GOES BACK TO MERSEYFLOW WHO WILL THEN RE-ISSUE THE PCNS. You can either promptly pay the £22 for each PCN or challenge them.
If you did NOT return the TE9 form OR return it late without a completed TE7 form OR what you say in the Witness statement or plea to Merseyflow is turned down, then the 'debt' will be passed to recovery agents, usually known as 'bailiffs'. They will issue a 'Notice of Enforcement' (see the next section of this page- 'Bailiffs'.
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STAGE FIVE - BAILIFFS
This section describes the process if it has gone past the TE form stage and the driver has received a 'Notice of Enforcement'. There is also this document that we produced which shows in some detail the process and what the bailiffs can and can not do.
If a vehicle owner has not received any of the various documents issued at earlier stages OR has done nothing to fight them OR something has gone wrong, then they will eventually receive a 'Notice of Enforcement'.
At this Notice of Enforcement stage the amount payable for each £2 toll that Merseyflow say was not paid (or was paid late) is a staggering £145.
Though the bridge had been open for over a year, it seems that Merseyflow only brought in the recovery agents at the beginning of December 2018. The firm hired by Merseyflow to get people to pay this exorbitant amount and failing that to seize their goods or vehicles is a firm of bailiffs or 'civil enforcement agents' called Marston. They moved to the stage of visiting and knocking on people's doors about the 12th December. So far they do not seem to have seized possessions or wheel clamped cars.
Some people claim that this can not happen without a county court judgement. In fact it does happen. The law for persecuting drivers who are alleged to have not paid a parking or tolls penalty is different from other 'debt'. There are so many drivers who the government and the local authorities see as their helpless victims that for parking and tolls they dispensed with the need for proper courts. The Recovery Orders go through a computer system at the Traffic Enforcement Centre that churns out thousands of these Orders every day.
The legal basis for this is explained here.
The main things to bear in mind are-
MAKE SURE THAT YOU COMPLETE ANY FORMS THAT MAY APPLY
If you believe that either you were not aware of this before or you have recently submitted TE9 (witness statement) and (if need be) a TE7 (out of time application) and you are waiting to hear from them, then tell the bailiffs and they should go away.
If you have not submitted a TE9 and TE7 form then do so straight away. (See Stage Four above)
If you can not do that then at least make a representation to Merseyflow even though technically it is late (See Stage One above)
IF YOU ARE VULNERABLE THEN TELL THEM
Though the law is generally on the side of those who are harassing you for hundreds of pounds because they allege you did not pay a £2 toll, there is some protection of the 'vulnerable'- Advice from Dealing with Bailiffs site.
There is no clear definition of the vulnerable, but it may include-
the seriously ill,
those with mental health difficulties,
those with children or who are pregnant - especially if they are a single parent,
those who are under 18,
those who are over 65,
those who don’t speak or read English well,
those who have someone close to them who is seriously ill or has recently died,
those who have suffered a recent stressful event such as being a crime victim,
If any of these apply to you then inform both the bailiff and Merseyflow. Do this in writing if you can.
If they continue to harass you or demand fees, then complain to the Council.
LOCK THEM OUT
You should regard a bailiff in the same way as you would regard any unwanted visitor or trespasser. When they first call, they can not enter into your home for any reason unless you invite them in OR you leave a door unlocked.
So do NOT let them in, whatever they may tell you. If you let them in once then our politicians have decided that if the bailiffs come back, then they can force their way in. If you need to talk to them, then do it outside with your doors locked.
WHAT THEY CAN NOT TAKE EVEN IF THEY DO GET IN TO YOUR HOME
If you allow the bailiffs to seize any of your goods, then bear in mind the amount that they are sold for may not recover the costs and so your 'debt' may not reduce. There are in any case items that the bailiffs are not supposed to take-
a) anything that is not yours - it may belong to your partner or children or parents and so on, b) anything that you do not fully own because there is a loan or hire purchase agreement, c) white goods such as washing machines and fridges, d) soft furniture that does not have fire safety labels, e) TVs if they are fixed to the wall by a bracket.
TAKING YOUR CAR
They can seize your car or other vehicle if it is on the highway, public property or your own property such as in your driveway. They can bring in the Police to stop you from physically preventing them taking the vehicle.
They can not take your vehicle if it is parked on someone else's private property such as a neighbour's driveway.
They can not take the vehicle if there is something blocking its removal, such as another vehicle.
They can not take the vehicle if it is not yours or is a company car or financed by a loan.
There are two Facebook groups about dealing with Bailiffs, they are both 'closed' so you have to join them- Beat the Bailiffs and the Banks - group page on Facebook Beat the Bailiffs - group page on Facebook.
And here is some general advice from the web- The Government - Bailiff powers when they visit your home Clear Debt.co - Know your rights: Bailiffs Bailiff Advice Online.
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CASE HISTORY ONE - FIRST PCN
Scrap Mersey Tolls members have had a few attempts at contesting the tolls through the Penalty process. This describes what happened when John McGoldrick crossed in late April and did not pay.
25 April 2018 crossed Mersey Gateway for Open meeting of Scrap Mersey tolls at Millbrow club in Widnes. Did not pay.
6 May 2018 Received a PCN dated 4 May.
7 May 2018 Made a representation online, as per Stage 1 above.
1 June 2018 Got letter from Merseyflow dated 25 May with offer to not pursue the penalty if the £2 toll is paid.
4 June 2018 Emailed a letter to Merseyflow declining their offer.
Emails . One back from Merseyflow. One replying to that and suggesting that what they said was incorrect and contrary to the regulations. And a last one to them on 3 July. They did not reply or take any further action to enforce the toll or penalty.
CASE HISTORY TWO - PAYING TOLL AND TRYING TO GET A REFUND
14 June 2018 crossed Mersey Gateway for protest at official 'opening' by the Queen in Widnes.
15 June 2018 Paid the toll online. Payment receipt.
14 July 2018 Letter demanding refund which was handed into Merseyflow office in Runcorn as part of a protest- "Mersey Gateway bosses insist there's no loophole and no getting your money back" SMT press release.
16 July 2018 Letter from Merseyflow refusing refunds.
CASE HISTORY THREE - SECOND PCN
This describes what happened when John McGoldrick crossed in July and did not pay.
13 July 2018, the day that Halton issued their statement on tolls and refunds, crossed Mersey Gateway for ITV interview at the Catalyst. Did not pay.
27 July 2018 Received a PCN dated 25 July.
1 August 2018 Made a representation online.
6 September 2018 Got Notice of Rejection from Merseyflow dated 3 September, with offer not to pursue the penalty if the £2 toll is paid.
7 September 2018 Appealed online to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (see Stage 2 above), saying that I would add evidence at a later date. Got an email acknowledgement from the Tribunal.
Next day got another email from the Tribunal, it included-
"Your appeal has been registered and the authority has confirmed the details.
What happens next?
They will now decide whether to contest your appeal.
How long will this take?
We have asked them to do this within 14 days."
10 September 2018 Merseyflow sent a message to Tribunal
"The Council had in place a valid and legal power to charge and enforce tolls on the Mersey Gateway Bridge from 14 October 2017. The 2018 Order also provides a valid and legal power to charge and enforce charges (which are described here as "tolls") on the Mersey Gateway Bridge from 19 April 2018. All vehicles using the Mersey Gateway Bridge on or after the 19 April 2018 are required to pay a toll unless exempt or they benefit from the Halton Local User Discount Scheme (LUDS). Any suggestion that the Council has no power to charge or enforce tolls or that the Council is acting “illegally” is misleading, inaccurate and wrong in law.
On 03/09/2018 the appellant was sent a letter offering the chance to pay the outstanding £2.00 as full settlement of the PCN. This offer is still valid until 17/09/2018 and if the appellant wishes to pay they can do so by calling our contact centre on 01928 878878."
17 September 2018 Submitted two evidence documents to Tribunal- Background The April 2018 Charging Order and indicated that there were more to come.
21 September 2018 (that's 14 days after start of appeal) got a message from the Tribunal saying "The authority has decided not to contest your appeal. This means that you have won your appeal and the case is closed......."
This was on the Decisions page for this appeal-
Mr John McGoldrick, the authority has not contested your appeal, and you are not liable to pay the penalty charge.
You do not have to pay the penalty charge.
This is because the charging authority did not contest your appeal.
We will be non contesting this case. We have decided this as the charges and Penalty Charge Notices relate to road user charging orders under the Transport Act 2000, which the Council considers to be validly and properly made and which thousands of people using the Mersey Gateway respect. However the Council considers that the Penalty Charge Notice having reference XMxxxxxxxx should be cancelled because:
The time limit for challenging the orders has elapsed a considerable time ago, and the use of appeals as a means to challenge orders which are contributing to public funds is not appropriate;
The submissions made by the recipient of the Penalty Charge Notices contain a large number of representations, none of which are accepted by the Council, but each of which would need to be addressed by legal submissions; and
The Council considers that deploying public resources to indulge an inappropriate use of the appeal process is not justified in this case.
25 September 2018 Received an undated letter from Merseyflow. "We are pleased to inform you that there are no further charges outstanding and no further action will be taken against you in respect of this/these PCN(s)."
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