Thursday, 15 December 2016

London Tribunals - February 2016

In February 2016, there were 162 decisions at the tribunal for Barnet Council of which 85, that is 52%, went the way of the motorist. That is a typical result.

The indivdual decisions were a mixed bag of various topics and the interesting decisions, in the written reports of the traffic adjudicators, all of which led to the PCN being cancelled, were as follows:

Dedicated disabled bays - The Appellant’s wife, a disabled badge holder, parked in what she thought was a disabled bay. The bay had the legend DISABLED and the sign read Disabled permit holder 095 only. She thought that the number referred to a zone as she was unaware that there could be bay reserved for the exclusive use of one particular badge holder. The Appellant argues that the sign is misleading and challenges it.

The sign is not permitted by the Traffic Signs Regulations & General Directions 2002. It does not comply with 661A and its permitted variants – the wheelchair symbol is missing and the word permit replaces the word badge. Neither does it comply with any of the 660 signs or their permitted variants as the word disabled is not allowed. As such the sign must have special authorisation of the DoT, but no such authorisation has been produced. In these circumstances I find that the sign substantially non- compliant.

Footway was actually private land - The Appellant attended this hearing together with a friend who lives in the block of flats she was visiting when this Penalty Charge Notice was issued to her vehicle.

The contravention the Appellant is said to have committed is set out in s15(1) Greater London Council (General Powers)Act 1974 - Save as provided in subsections (3), (4), (7) and (11), any person who causes or permits any vehicle to be parked in Greater London with one or more wheels on or over any part of a road other than a carriageway or on or over a footpath, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale.

The Appellant says that she parked on the pavement adjacent to the access or slip road to the block of flats and this was part of the property owned by the freeholders of the block. Her friend confirmed this.

The council maintain that as the public have access to the area and no proof has been given that it is private land the Penalty Charge Notice was properly issued.

From the photographs that the Appellant showed me, the area in question is quite clearly part of the block of flats and is an access road or forecourt. Between it and the carriageway is a public pavement broken only by dropped footway for access.

There is another pavement between the access road or forecourt and the block of flats. Whilst the public would have access to it if visiting the block of flats, but for no other purpose
given the public pavement referred to above, it does not make that area into a road other than a carriageway or a footpath.

I allow this appeal as I am not satisfied that where the vehicle was parked was a road other than a carriageway or a footpath.

Bunns Lane Car Park 3 hours free - he allegation in this case is that the vehicle was parked without payment of the parking charge. Mr. A says that he parked on a Saturday, read the tariff board and believed he was entitled simply to park without payment.

The Enforcement Authority have provided a photograph of the relevant conditions of use plate. There is a box giving the tariffs for the bay. This indicates ‘Saturday 8am-6.30pm Up to 3 hours No Charge/Free’. The Enforcement Authority rely on a statement at the bottom of the box ‘FREE PARKING SESSION MUST BE REGISTERED BY PHONE’. However, beyond the use of capitals this direction enjoys no special prominence.

I regard this as a borderline case. However, having considered the matter carefully I do not feel able to say that the signage was clear and adequate to inform the motorist. Accordingly I allow the appeal.

Crossing the bus lane to access premises - The Appellant's case, which I have heard from him in person, is that having executed a lawful U-turn he entered the bus lane in order to gain access to adjacent premises where he had a pickup to make. The relevant Traffic Management Order contains the usual exemption allowing vehicles to cross a bus lane for
such a purpose. The issue in this case is therefore essentially whether in all the circumstances the Appellant's vehicle would fall within that exemption. The distances are quite short and there seems to me some force in the Appellant's submission that it would be unsafe to require his vehicle to pursue a zig-zag course of leaving the bus lane only to turn back across it immediately.

In my judgement the exemption for crossing does not require the vehicle to cross at a right angle and only at a right angle. There are questions of fact and degree in these cases. The
Council has not provided a copy of the CCTV evidence and in its absence it seems to me probable on the particular facts of this case that the exemption would apply. The Appeal is
therefore allowed.

Signing of the overnight waiting ban - I do not have a great deal of sympathy with the Appellant . The sign shown in her photograph indicating the presnce of an overnight prohibition on waiting for buses and lorries has no application at all to the single yellow line. It is simply the sign required by regulations to be present in every street within a Zone prohibiting overnight parking by HGVs. Motorists are required to be aware of the meaning of legally prescribed traffic signs and must take steps to familiarise themselves with them if
necessary. It also looks as if, given the fact that previous PCNs have been issued, the Appellant ought to have been well aware of the waiting restriction in place whether or not those appeals were allowed.

Nevertheless I take the view that where an issue as to the clarity of signage arises a failure by a Council to follow the recommendations of the Traffic Signs Manual, the official government guidance, inevitably puts the Council in some difficulty . The TSM Chapter 3 Para 12.11 specifically recommends that where there are two types of Zone at the same location a time plate to indicate the waiting restriction should be co-located with the overnight parking sign to avoid possible confusion. In the circumstances I am just persuaded that the signage was not as clear as it should have been and on this occasion the Appeal is allowed. The Appellant, however, should note that she cannot continue to plead ignorance or confusion indefinitely.

Single yellow line across a dropped kerb - This vehicle on the council's case was parked adjacent to a lowered footway.

The vehicle was resting on a single yellow line which runs alongside that lowered footway.
There was no dispute that the appellant had parked outside of the yellow line's hours of restriction.

The appellant submitted that given yellow line restrictions were not in force he believed he could park as he did.

There is both a prohibition on parking at this spot adjacent to the lowered footway AND a waiting restriction at it indicated by the single yellow line.

I was satisfied however having noted the appellant's submissions on the point that the marking of a single [as opposed to a double] yellow line alongside this lowered footway
misleads the motorist into thinking that he can park adjacent to it outside of restricted hours applicable in respect of the yellow line notwithstanding the prohibition that is in place. I was not for that reason satisfied that the prohibition on parking adjacent to a lowered footway at this location was clearly communicated to the motorist and found that the contravention had not therefore been proved.

Keep those Appeals coming. If your PCN is at full value you have nothing to lose by making
an Appeal to London Tribunals once you have a Notice of Rejection at full price (i.e. no 50% discount)

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

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