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

Director, Governance and Improvement

City of York Council
£87,623 to £97,149
We are looking for an exceptional individual to be appointed to the position of Director of Governance and Improvement. York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Chief Fire Officer

West Sussex County Council
Competitive Salary plus Financial Support for Recruitment and Retention
We are looking for an exceptional individual who can lead our Fire & Rescue Service Chichester, West Sussex
Recuriter: West Sussex County Council

Inspector / Senior Inspector

City of Bradford MDC
£21,166 - £31,371 pa
This is an opportunity to join the Highway Maintenance team who have responsibility for maintenance of around 2,000km of adopted road network. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Traffic Management Operative/Foreman

Balfour Beatty
Competitive
Are you a Traffic Management Operative/Foreman with Highspeed (12AB) Qualifications, looking for a new and exciting opportunity? If so read on..... Leatherhead, Surrey
Recuriter: Balfour Beatty

Senior Team Leader

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 to £38,994 per annum inclusive
Looking for individuals with initiative, evidence of experience in managing a street cleansing service and motivating... Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Road Safety Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£21,589 - £31,371
We are looking for a candidate who can participate in developing and delivering technically sound highway engineering solutions. Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Information Management Officer x 2 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£24,799 - £26,317
Looking for better and smarter ways to operate and you will play a key role working across a broad range of service... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Graduate Engineer

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,313 - £28,785 per annum
This is an exciting new opportunity in the Highway Services team to play a pivotal role in creating a safe and... Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

School Crossing Patrol

Brent Council
£21,591 - £22,377 p.a. inc. pro rata.
Looking for someone that is friendly, has great communication skills and enjoys working with children. Wembley, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Engineer (Highway Design)

Darlington Borough Council
£31,371 - £33,799
Looking to employ an experienced person within the Highway Design team to meet the challenge of enabling development... Darlington, Durham
Recuriter: Darlington Borough Council

Project Manager – Major Maintenance and Infrastructure Projects 

Liverpool City Council
£42,683 - £47,491 
The successful candidate will ensure that effective procurement and delivery of highways maintenance and improvement. Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Green Space Development Manager

Camden London Borough Council
£45,504 - £52,786
The successful candidate will join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team and contribute to our commitment to deliver for... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Green Space Project Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£40,829 - £47,360
The successful candidate will join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team and contribute to our commitment to deliver for the people of Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Principal Planning Officer - Fixed Term

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£39.774 - £42.684
Looking for key members of the team that will be instrumental in transforming the Borough and opportunities available for residents.  Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Career Grade Planner

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£27228 - £36711
In this role you will deal primarily with small-scale planning applications covering a wide range of planning issues. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Career Grade Planning Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£27.228 - £36.711
We offer a great opportunity to develop your career with a positive approach to development and a desire to put... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Director of Place and Communities

Ashfield District Council
£79,070
As the Director for Place and Communities you will provide strategic and operational leadership across a range of key services including Waste... Nottinghamshire
Recuriter: Ashfield District Council

Highways Operative - 3 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£18,426 - £21,166 (plus 20% enhancement if working in the night team)
You will be responsible for providing effective maintenance and development of the Kirklees road network carrying out a range of highway works. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Rights of Way Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£26,470 - £28,221
The purpose of the role is to implement and advise on the maintenance, protection, improvement and promotion of access... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Road Safety and Sustainable Transport Assistant

Telford & Wrekin Council
£11.41 - £12.35 per hour
Are you passionate about Road Safety, and want to help educate road users and develop their skills? Wrekin, Telford
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Download your Highways App

Google App Apple App

Highways on Fridays

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Smart Mobility Special

New roads, new rules

Big Interview: Jim O'Sullivan

View the latest issue

Latest Video