Two local judges have cancelled the year-long moratorium on the payment of fines by motorists for driving vehicles in downtown Madrid in violation of the city’s Madrid Central traffic-control and vehicle emissions program.
The suspension of payment of the traffic fines was decreed by the conservative government of the Popular Party (PP) just two days after it came to power last June, following hotly contested municipal elections last year in the Spanish capital.
The Madrid Central program was devised and implemented under the previous municipal administration of progressive Mayor Manuela Carmena to reduce vehicle emissions in compliance with EU-mandated safety levels.
The magistrate of the Contentious-Administrative Court No. 24 of Madrid, Jesús Torres, annulled the decision made by PP mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida in June 2019 to suspend the fines levied against the drivers of vehicles not authorized to circulate under the Madrid Central program. Likewise, Judge Carlos Sánchez Sanz of the Contentious-Administrative Court No. 7 of Madrid issued a similar judgement overruling the decree.
Judge Torres’ decision was made in response to a request from the Spanish environmentalist NGO Ecologistas en Acción. It was in the same court precisely a year ago that the moratorium on fines was provisionally halted and which after consideration the judge says he now finds to be “non-compliant with the law.” He ruled that the PP’s moratorium on fines be lifted immediately, but imposed no economic sanction on the municipal council.
Judge Sánchez Sanz’ decision to anul the suspension of the fines ordered by the PP government came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Socialist party in Madrid and the Spanish office of international environmental organization Greenpeace. The Socialist party and the opposition Más Madrid party praised the judge’s ruling in the case.
The Madrid government have fifteen days to decide whether to lodge an appeal of the judicial decisions with the Contentious-Administrative Chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid.
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