Three former traffic wardens have claimed that they resigned after council bosses instructed them to issue illegal parking tickets.
Jo Pengilley, Tony Lewis and Sylvia Watts made the claims at an employment tribunal in Taunton this week as part of their case for unfair constructive dismissal against Exeter City Council.
The trio allege their supervisor wrote to all wardens to tell them to "ignore traffic regulation orders" -- the rules that govern where people can park -- and issue tickets in areas where the signs and lines were "ambiguous or not compliant with traffic regulation orders".
Ms Pengilley said that if a motorist appealed a ticket it would invariably be cancelled if there was "any doubt" about its legitimacy under the traffic regulation orders.
"It was not something that I wished to do, or was happy about doing, but I did do it," she said.
When challenged about the "deception", she says managers just ordered wardens to "get on with it".
Ms Pengilley highlighted a number of management problems to the tribunal, including:
- failing to punish staff who persistently "skived off" work;
- allowing builders and workmen to park on double yellow lines with impunity, often bringing the city to a standstill; and
- letting motorists who drove away before being issued a ticket get off "scot-free".
Robert Shaw, for the claimants, said the council was "hell bent" on making money and became the only authority in Devon to make a profit after it told wardens to ignore traffic regulation orders.
The trio's line manager Paul Mackie denied this. He said responsibility for signs and lines across the city was the responsibility of Devon County Council.
When Mr Shaw asked Mr Mackie whether it was legal to issue tickets where signs and lines are ambiguous, he replied "you will have to ask Devon County Council".
Mr Shaw then said: "Motorists have to know there is something wrong and appeal. All the while Exeter City Council is issuing tickets which may or may not be legal." To which Mr Mackie replied: "I am not going to comment on that."
Mr Mackie was willing to acknowledge the trio had received no formal training on civil parking enforcement, however, and that 3,000 tickets have been cancelled since May 2008.
The tribunal continues.