Page last updated at 13:50 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Parking on private land is banned

Dr Richard Dawood
Dr Dawood says the council's actions have been 'outrageous'

A doctor has lost a court battle over parking tickets issued to a scooter parked on his land - because a judge ruled he only owns the subsoil.

Dr Richard Dawood, parks his scooter outside his surgery in Camden, north London, so he can react to emergencies.

He was left with £10,000 legal costs and fines when a judge ruled the public had access to the strip of land, so the council could issue fines.

Camden Council said parking on the pavement caused an obstruction.

Dr Dawood countered: "The idea that I should be harassed for using my own land is absolutely ridiculous.

"That Camden Council should occupy itself with me - when there are so many pressing matters they should be concerned about - is outrageous."

The appeal judge admitted he sympathised with Dr Dawood.

Lord Justice Smedley's ruling said it was "eyebrow raising" and "counter-intuitive" that the fines should stand.

An army of council officials have started doing a job no-one intended - interpreting the law
Dr Dawood

Dr Dawood's land is marked with potted plants and signs saying: "This forecourt is private not a public footway. Authorised parking only."

For years he used it without a ticket. Tickets started to be given out after a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition took over at the council.

The ruling means people could technically be fined by councils for parking on their own drives if not gated, warned the doctor and a parking campaigner.

Dr Dawood continued: "The law as it stands is arbitrary and leaves it up to local councils.

"My experience with Camden has shown me that, without anyone realising it, an army of council officials have started doing a job no-one intended - interpreting the law."

He warned the ruling meant tracts of private land currently accessible to pedestrians may now have to be boarded up, adding: "That can't be in the public interest."

'Absolutely crazy'

Parking campaigner Neil Herron said: "It is absolutely ridiculous. When is commonsense going to apply to parking?

"The judge is effectively saying he must close his land to the public, which is absolutely crazy."

Only Westminster Council makes more from parking in London than Camden, which collected £39m last year - £22m from enforcement.

Campaigners have long highlighted Camden as one of the most aggressive councils for parking enforcement.

A Camden Council spokeswoman said: "Parking on the pavement can obstruct pedestrians and people with prams or pushchairs.

"There is a free motorcycle bay a few metres from the location where Dr Dawood parked his scooter.

"Unfortunately, he continued to park his scooter on the footpath and therefore continued to receive parking tickets."

The council added it had cancelled several of Dr Dawood's tickets.

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