Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 12:09 UK

Sunderland parking fines 'crusader' at High Court

Neil heron
Mr Heron claims parking charges are a stealth tax

A former "Metric Martyr" from Sunderland is taking his crusade against what he claims are "unlawful" parking fines to the High Court.

Neil Herron, 45, alleges Sunderland City Council set up a controlled parking zone (CPZ) without getting the necessary approval.

He said a victory could enable hundreds of drivers to contest penalty charge notices.

Sunderland City Council said it would not comment until after the hearing.

Mr Herron, from Sunderland, has spent more than £100,000 of his own money in a five-year battle to improve the status of motorists he said have been treated as "second-class citizens".

'Petty bureaucrats'

Speaking outside the court in central London, he insisted his battle was for "fair enforcement".

He said: "Councils have been using parking as a stealth tax - the more tickets they issue, the more money they get.

"We are not opposed to parking enforcement, but if councils do not comply with the law, then anything they do to fine motorists is unlawful."

He has claimed some councils have taken a "reckless approach" by fining motorists for being "an inch over the line" or being "one minute late back to the meter".

"We have petty little bureaucrats and officials who have seen an opportunity to impose a stealth tax on motorists and fill council black holes," he added.

His case is due to be heard by Mr Justice Bean.

Mr Heron was a supporter of so-called "Metric Martyr" Steve Thoburn who died in 2004, after being convicted for using scales showing only imperial weights to sell food from his greengrocer stall in Sunderland.

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