POLICE could be called in to investigate Ealing Council for fraud after it refused to hand out refunds for cash taken on unlawful box junctions.

Cops are investigating a north London borough where 73 tickets were handed out by the local council on one unlawfully marked box junction.

This number is dwarfed by the 59,728 penalties handed out by Ealing Council in the past two years on six junctions which were finally taken up earlier this month, following advice from the Department of Transport (DfT).

Ealing Council has agreed to repay people sent £100 tickets from the junctions in Southall, Hanwell and Ealing Broadway, from June 20, when it was revealed last week the council was told the markings were wrong by the DfT.

However, campaigners are now pushing councillors to refund every penny dished out by drivers since the junctions were put in place in 2004.

Jim Douglas, a campaigner for the Motorist’s Legal Challenge, an organisation set up to challenge councils over incorrect road markings, said the group was considering calling in police to investigate Ealing Council on grounds of fraud.

He said: "The principles of British law have shown the money is refundable from when it started to be taken unlawfully, and not from when the council was told it was wrong.

"This has been proven in court with banks found guilty of mis-selling policies. They offered to pay back cash from when they discovered products were being mis-sold, but were told to pay back the whole lot.

"We still want the council to admit its mistake and pay back the cash, but until it does this it will have dirty money on its books."

Mr Douglas also said police investigating the other box junction had admitted it was a sensitive area, because of their close working relationship with the local authority.

Ealing Council has spent thousands of pounds putting 50 extra Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) on the streets, and also works closely with officers in areas such as trading standards and envirocrime.

He continued: "Obviously, this problem could present itself in Ealing as well, and so we want to know whether officers from Ealing would be investigating.

"There is a conflict of interests here, so perhaps it would be better if it was looked at by people from another borough who are independent."

He said the group would be contacting Councillor Phil Taylor, who is in charge of parking, to lay down its position before pursuing the case any further.

Cllr Taylor said the threat would not change the council’s stance on the issue.

He told the Ealing Times: "We have to draw the line somewhere, and if we kept going back over history the council would never be able to move forward in anything it does.

"We still believe those junctions were legal, but the DfT weren’t happy with them so we took them up."

Anyone interested in joining the campaign for a refund can send an email to: ealing@motoristslegalchallenge.co.uk.

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