Fines blunder calls council pay into doubt

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COUNTY Hall boss Caroline Tapster’s £203,000 pay packet has been called into question in light of the Moor End Road fiasco.

Mrs Tapster is among the 20 most highly-paid council officials in the UK, according to the latest figures from the Taxpayers’ Alliance, but has presided over the potential loss of £1.26 million of taxpayers’ cash as wrongly-levied fines are refunded to motorists.

County vouncillor Nick Hollinghurst, who represents Tring for the Liberal Democrats, said: “I have always questioned the generosity of the council to its chief executive.

“The Moor End Road fiasco has shown that the county’s finances are less like a bucket and more like a sieve, with money trickling out all over the place.”

Herts County Council decided on Monday to pay back all fines dished out to motorists caught by the bus lane camera in Moor End Road, Hemel Hempstead, after it was ruled unlawful by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.

Almost 35,000 fines have been issued and the potential cost of the move is around £1.26 million.

There have been calls for heads to roll over the blunders in the scheme. Steve Baker, of campaign group NoToMob, said: “There has to be public accountability. They are public servants and they haven’t served the public.”

John Wood, currently director of environment and commercial services at the council, will be taking on the role of chief executive at the end of May on a salary of £170,000 when Mrs Tapster retires.

County council spokesman David Henning said: “It’s a recognition that the council is cost-saving where it can.”

Concerning Moor End Road he said: “The enforcement was implemented after we went to considerable lengths to seek the best available advice and good practice from other areas. We do not anticipate any internal disciplinary action.”