Westmeath County Council has been ordered to bring parking summonses to court much sooner than it does.
Judge Hughes has long noted the small number of people who appear in court to answer council parking summonses and therefore have their fines increased from €40 to €375.
But at the recent sitting of Mullingar District Court, he questioned how anyone would remember they were due in court, when the court date was as much as five months after the date the summons was issued.
“It’s not acceptable,” he told solicitor for the council, Vicky McCarthy. “They have to be the following month, that’s my direction.”
One summons against a man who was alleged to have parked in a loading bay, had been issued by the council in May but it specified a court date in October.
The judge said there was “unfairness” in giving a date six months away, as the summons could be lost or mislaid in the interim.
“They should have an immediate return date of one month,” he insisted.
He was unimpressed at the explanation that the summonses are dealt with in bulk and presented to the court office many months in advance.