Signs mix-up could make parking fines "unlawful"

13/02/2013
Highways Reporters

Almost 350,000 parking fines totalling £23m may have been unlawfully issued to motorists in London.


In 2010 a ticket issued in a suspended parking bay was ruled unlawful because Camden Council did not have authorisation for its signage.

Now a BBC investigation has learned 16 councils still have no authorisation for these signs, while others went years without.

A typical inner London council suspends more than 1,500 parking bays a month.

The Department for Transport (DfT) designs road signs for most situations, which authorities must follow closely. But it has never produced a template for a suspended parking bay sign.

If no sign is set out by the DfT, the law says councils must ask the transport secretary to authorise their own creations.

Otherwise they would be effectively licensed to invent road signs at will.

In January 2010, motorist Suzanne Campbell defeated Camden Council at a Parking and Traffic Appeals Service (Patas) hearing after being ticketed in a suspended parking bay.

Adjudicator Edward Houghton ruled: "In the absence of a compliant sign the vehicle was not in contravention and the appeal must be allowed.

"No doubt the council will give consideration to obtaining the secretary of state's authorisation."

Shortly afterwards there was a rush of applications for authorisation from London councils. Some 14 received it by 2012.

But all these councils had been issuing tickets in suspended parking bays for years previously.

And the DfT told the BBC's Inside Out programme that another 16 councils still have no authorisation.

Neil Davies, a motoring solicitor at Caddick Davies, said: "From a legal perspective councils are on very shaky ground, because the signage they used is effectively made up.

"It's difficult to explain the actions of councils who haven't sought authorisation - they may be relying on the fact many people don't challenge parking notices."

The BBC has traced a minimum of 343,956 tickets issued under unauthorised signs.

Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "The department provides clear guidelines to councils to help them produce signs that comply with regulations.
"It's not for government to police signs - this role falls to local politicians who are accountable to their residents."

Several authorities claimed a subsequent test case, a 2011 Court of Appeal judgement, meant their signage was nonetheless lawful.

That case established the legal principle that trivial failures to adhere to signage laws are not grounds to cancel a ticket if the sign is clear.

A London Councils spokeswoman said: "The Campbell case pre-dates an important decision in the Court of Appeal last year, where the court ruled a technical failure to comply with Traffic Signs Regulations does not invalidate signage so long as signs are clear and motorists are not misled.

"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."

 
Highways jobs

Highways Asset & Maintenance Manager

Brighton & Hove City Council
£42,806 - £46,326
Looking to recruit a new Highways Asset and Maintenance Manager Brighton, East Sussex
Recuriter: Brighton & Hove City Council

Senior Development Engineer

Bristol City Council
£27,358 - £33,136
Bristol is an exciting, and culturally thriving Regional Capital City of Bristol
Recuriter: Bristol City Council

Executive Director Place & Economy

Peterborough City & Cambridgeshire County Councils
Competitive salary
The opportunity to combine major services across a city and a county to contribute to the delivery of future growth and Infrastructure Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Peterborough City & Cambridgeshire County Councils

Head of Culture & Place

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
up to £78,800 plus PRP
This could not be a more important time to join Kensington and Chelsea Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Director for Cleaner, Greener & Cultural Services

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
up to £103,500 plus PRP
This could not be a more important time to join Kensington and Chelsea Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Director for Public Protection

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
up to £103,500 plus PRP
This could not be a more important time to join Kensington and Chelsea Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Chief Executive

Luton Borough Council
Luton Borough Council
Recuriter: Luton Borough Council

Head of Democratic Services

Ealing London Borough Council
£58,650.00 - £61,737.00
Ealing is an exciting place to live and work, and local democracy is at the heart of its success. Ealing, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Ealing London Borough Council

Director of Development and Environment

North Somerset Council
circa £125,000 p.a.
We are looking for an experienced and enthusiastic individual to maintain momentum on delivery of our regeneration and placemaking aspirations Somerset
Recuriter: North Somerset Council

Development Officer/Senior Development Officer

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
£28,221 - £35,229 / £33,136 - £41,846
Seeking an individual to lead on all aspects of Highways advice to a busy Development Management team Solihull, West Midlands
Recuriter: Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council

Highways Asset & Maintenance Manager

Brighton & Hove City Council
£42,806 - £46,326
Looking to recruit a new Highways Asset and Maintenance Manager Brighton, East Sussex
Recuriter: Brighton & Hove City Council

Commercial Manager

Leicester City Council
£41,846 - £44,697
Seeking for a Comercial Manager to work for the Leicester City Council. Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicester City Council

Senior Highways Development Engineer

Leeds City Council
£37,107 - £39,961
Seeking to appoint an experienced highways engineer or transport planner. Leeds, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Leeds City Council

Trainee Deputy Editor of Bridge Design & Engineering

Bridge Design & Engineering
£24,000-26,000
Bd&e is looking for a structural or civil engineering graduate with a passion for bridges. Dorset
Recuriter: Bridge Design & Engineering

Strategic Transport Project Development Officer

Hull City Council
£36.153 - £39.002
Would you like to work in the successful UK City of Culture? Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
Recuriter: Hull City Council

Project Lead

Hull City Council
£45.181 - £48.563
Would you like to work in the successful UK City of Culture? Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
Recuriter: Hull City Council

Highway Development Control Officer

Hull City Council
£31.401 - £34.106
Would you like to work in the successful UK City of Culture? Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
Recuriter: Hull City Council

Highway / Traffic Development / Design Technician - Three posts

Hull City Council
£28221 - £30756
Would you like to work in the successful UK City of Culture? Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
Recuriter: Hull City Council

Assistant Director - Economy & Regeneration

Babergh & Mid Suffolk
Up to £72k
Quality of work, quality of life, along with a generous relocation package and flexible working patterns. Ipswich, Suffolk
Recuriter: Babergh & Mid Suffolk

Assistant Director - Environment & Commercial Services

Babergh & Mid Suffolk
Up to £72k
Quality of work, quality of life, along with a generous relocation package and flexible working patterns Ipswich, Suffolk
Recuriter: Babergh & Mid Suffolk

Chief Executive

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
c£160,000
Barnsley is a Council with ambition, flair and imagination Barnsley, South Yorkshire
Recuriter: Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Download your Highways App

Google App Apple App

Highways on Fridays

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Includes:

  • Interviews with Jesse Norman and Jim O'Sullivan
  • Michael Matheson on road safety in Scotland
  • Traffex Road Expo Scotland review
View the latest issue

Latest Video