London

Parking ticket whistleblower receives £20,000 payout

Parking ticket
Image caption NSL said it was considering an appeal against the judgement

A traffic warden who highlighted unfair parking quotas being used in Kensington and Chelsea has been awarded £20,000 for being unfairly dismissed.

An employment tribunal judge ruled in January that tickets were issued by parking enforcement firm NSL in a "predatory and dishonest" way.

Traffic warden Hakim Berkani said he had hoped to return to his job.

NSL said it was disappointed and considering an appeal against the original tribunal ruling.

The tribunal ruling detailed how NSL, working for Kensington and Chelsea Council, set its wardens a minimum target of 10 tickets a working shift.

'Absolutely vindicated'

It is illegal to set minimum quotas of parking tickets.

Mr Berkani, from Wandsworth, claimed he was dismissed for highlighting the illegal quota system, along with his union activities.

Judge Jeremy Burns agreed he had been unfairly dismissed.

He wrote: "The claimant took the view that the priority should be given to warning motorists about infringements rather than issuing PCNs [fines].

"The managers however took the view that a minimum number of PCNs should be issued, and 10 per shift was frequently mentioned as an absolute minimum."

He added that some senior staff at NSL's branch in Kensington and Chelsea "saw the claimant as a trouble-maker because he had refused to comply with the clandestine quota system".

Alasdair Seton-Marsden, a local resident, represented Mr Berkani at London Central Employment Tribunal free of charge.

He said Mr Berkani had been "absolutely vindicated" by the judgement and payout.

But he added that the father-of-two, whose wife is expecting twins, had most wanted to have his old job back.

'No targets'

Mr Berkani has a part-time job working in a school canteen but has struggled to find full-time work since losing his job in February 2011, he said.

"He was very good at his job. He liked his job and he was liked by the local community," said Mr Seton-Marsden.

He added: "As the judgement demonstrated he had done nothing wrong and contributed in no way to his dismissal."

NSL has denied that it has set targets or that employees receive incentives linked to the number of tickets that are issued.

It said it has until 8 March to appeal.

Alastair Cooper, enforcement director at NSL, said: "We are considering our options."

A spokesman for Kensington and Chelsea Council said: "The council does not have parking quotas.

"Like most other local authorities it changed its enforcement practices in 2008 when new statutory guidance came into force.

"Our enforcement practices are entirely lawful."

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