Ok i suppose the best place to start from is the beginning. In April 2004 I was driving to Bolton to see my family as i live at the other end of the country. My girlfriend was going to London to see her Mother at a hospital up there and was going to get the National Express. I said as i will be going near London i will drop you off just inside London and you can get the underground to the Hospital. When we got to London we got diverted due to road works and got lost. I dropped my girlfriend off and started to try and find my way out of London. I must of entered the Congestion Zone though i didnt know it or anything about it at the time and finally managed to get my way back on the M25. There was no reason why i should of gone in the Congestion Zone in the first place other than getting lost and hence didnt really think anything of it. I then went up to Bolton and after a week got home to find a PNC for driving the Congestion Zone. I thought come on i wasn't even suppose to go in there and they want £40 for a £5 day pass if i had of paid. So in went my appeal as i felt unjust in getting this on the basis of
1, didnt know about the CC
2, Got diverted which got me lost off my track which made me end up having to go in there when there was no need.
there were other factors which i can find but dont want to bore you.
Well about a month later got a letter saying your appeal was unsucessful. If you want to appeal to an independant person you can. So i did again appeal in May and heard nothing back from them.
Then come November 2005 a knock on the door from a baliff while i was up in Bolton again and the girlfriend answered the door. They have come to sieze goods if i dont pay the £260 odd pound for the fine.
Gets straight home from Bolton which was 300 Miles to sort it out and rang up the congestion people. They said your appeal was unsuccessful in Feb 2005 and you were issued with the £40 fine and if you dont pay it up it goes 2 weeks later to £80 and so on. Well i didnt recieve this that the appeal lost so off to the county court to issue an out of time declaration on the basis i didnt recieve the appeal decision. They turned that down so i went further with it to the courts who upheld my out of time declaration.
So now i am thinking ok i have lost my appeal on having to pay(Which i think is wrong) but hey ok after all this hassle i will pay the £40.. Rings up the Congestion people to pay and they say sorry we not recieved the papers back yet from the court to say you won your appeal and even so the fine is now £80.
rings up again in June (two months later) sorry still not received the papers. Ok so i contact Northampton and they say yes we have sent them the papers about your out of time declaration being successful. Ok then can you resend them to them please. Yes no problem.
Then last week gets a notice through the door from CC i have to pay £120 immediately. WTF is going on. Contacts them again and they say they still not received the papers. Can you contact them again and ask them to resend them back out. I said go f@ck yourselves and do it yourselve. Why do i have to be the middle man in all this going back and fourth. You contact them they will tell you directly problem solved. No they wont do that i have to contact them. Told them to stick it and i will see if i can take them to court over this hassle.
This is now over 2 years over a paultry £5 which i didnt think i should of got and should of won on an appeal.
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You could try contacting 'Citizens Advice'. What you really need is a solicitor or at least proper legal advice, but beware, you are dealing with an organisation that in my opinion is totally autocratic. A fly in a spider's web has more chance of escape than someone caught by the congestion charge.
If you live outside London and are not familiar with the way the scheme operates, then avoid driving into the city. There are no toll booths, no clear warning signs, no information for innocent visiting strangers, just cameras. Not like speed cameras, painted yellow which are more often than not preceded by roadsigns with pictures of a camera or even large worded warning signs.
We talk about unfair bank charges. The way Congestion charging operates is to my mind, nothing short of legalised extortion - unfair, unscrupulous and loathesome. You are given six different grounds for appeal. No other 'excuse' is accepted. Retrospective payment is not accepted but the longer it is before you ultimately pay, due to appeals etc, the more you are likely to have to pay.
The hub-centre is based I think, in Coventry. Phoning them up, they don't want to know! It's up to you to know about the scheme and pay up before you use it.
I already feel sorry for those people going to the Olympic Games who will get stung. Bet Seb Ccoe didn't include that in the promotion blurb and boy oh boy, will that add to the congestion. I bet they can't wait!
My daughter's group had done a gig in Islington, the last but one of 25 over 30 nights supporting The Fall on their British Tour. They were shattered and rather than drive back to Manchester through the night, they booked into a hotel in King's Cross. Leaving at 7-30am next morning, they were caught on camera leaving!!!! London at 7-55am. They never saw the camera or anything else warning them. First they knew was 3 weeks later.
Be careful that you are not throwing good money after bad. I really sympathise with what you have gone through but whilst I appreciate the problem of traffic congestion, in my opinion, their present charge scheme is unfair, makes a mockery of traditional British justice and should be scrapped.