Motorists face parking fines which may be unlawful

Pic: WordRidden

Pic: WordRidden

Motorists who have been fined for parking in a ‘suspended bay’ may be due for a rebate, a BBC program will reveal tonight, because the fines may have been levied unlawfully by Croydon council. 

Croydon is one of 16 London councils that mat have to pay-back fines because they didn’t receive authorisation from the Department for Transport (DfT) for the signs that they have been using  to alert people to suspended parking bays.

According to the BBC, fines estimated to amount to £23m may have been issued to London motorist that could be classified as unlawful.

Road signs are designed by the DfT, however, there is no official sign template indicating that a parking bay has been suspended. Instead, councils must produce their own signs but there is a catch:  they cannot use the signs until they have authorisation from the transport secretary.

In 2010, a motorist won a challenge over Camden council which had issued a fine at a suspended parking bay with an un-authorised sign.

Following the ruling, 14 councils, including Lewisham and Hackney, successfully applied for permission to use their own signs. Until then, the councils had been issuing fines to motorists parking in areas where the signs had not been officially approved.

BBC’s ‘Inside Out’ program is to reveal that 16 London councils are yet to receive authorisation.  The BBC had traced 343,956 tickets which had been issued under unauthorised signs, although it said the real number was probably higher.

However, a London Councils spokeswoman said a decision in the Court of Appeal last year had ruled that ‘technical failure’ to comply with Traffic Signs Regulations, “does not invalidate signage so long as signs are clear and motorists are not misled”

She said: “This ruling has effectively prevented further successful appeals on the grounds of a technical failure to comply with the regulations where no harm can be shown.”

But speaking to the BBC, Neil Davies, a motoring solicitor at Caddick Davies said that from a legal perspective the councils were on: “very shaky ground” because “the signage they used is effectively made up.”

He said the 28 day limit to make an appeal might deter motorist from claiming money back, and  the fact that councils have been applying for authorisation after the 2011 judgment indicates that they are aware that there is an  issue.

Croydon council declined to comment until the programme had been aired.

You can watch ‘Inside Out’ on BBC One, Monday 11 February at 7.30 PM.

Have you received a fine for parking in a suspended parking bay in Croydon? Tweet us at @eastlondonlines.

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